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24 observations from Texans vs. Jaguars

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Like many of you, drama is not my strong suit and my heart can only handle so much, but the Texans keep trying my heart's endurance with wins like the one on Sunday. A one-point win over the two-win Jaguars didn't seem likely just after Marqise Lee went 100 yards on a kickoff return touchdown. But, Bill O'Brien's Texans found a way, somehow, to get a win. But, it didn't come without its share of talking points. Here's what happened on Sunday and my observations from the day.

  1. I'm not totally sure what was my favorite Jadeveon Clowney play of the day. It might've been his sack in the first quarter on a brilliantly-called stunt. It might've been his tackle for a loss on a Blake Bortles zone read run. It might've been when he stood up in front of the Jaguars offensive line and gestured that they really couldn't block him. The point is that Clowney was a one-man wrecking crew. Think about it - no Watt, no Simon and no Mercilus. Clowney was the last pass rusher standing and he went nuts.
  1. Clowney's combination of quickness, power and strength is awesome in the truest sense of the word. He's in a groove now and it shows with the confidence with which he's playing. On the zone read quarterback pull, Clowney made it seem as if he was going to trail Chris Ivory from behind, but he planted his inside foot and made a beeline to Bortles, hammering him for a significant loss. You know how hard that is? I'll help you, it's nearly impossible for 99.99 percent of the NFL players that play each Sunday, much less normal human beings. That play kept Jacksonville from mounting any real push toward the goal line. Suffice it to say, he saved four points on that drive with that huge play.
  1. The decision to put Tom Savage in the game is one that many thought was an easy one, but I'm sure it tore Bill O'Brien up inside to have to make it. But, Savage's ability to manage the game and make key throws for first downs throughout the day made O'Brien look like he had made the right call.
  1. Savage made throws into small windows, short, intermediate and long. He made his first throw of the day down the sideline to Wendall Williams who had gotten behind Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Of course, I got caught celebrating right behind, as per usual... annnnnnnnd it was caught on camera. Go to my Twitter feed (@jharrisfootball) and you'll see it.
  1. Regardless, Savage's calm and cool in the pocket was equal parts pleasing and disconcerting. There were times where my mind was racing and screaming, "THROW IT, TOM... GET RID OF IT, TOM". But, he typically threw it just before a Jaguar defender could get to him.
  1. He took a few shots, too, but he held strong and delivered the ball on time and to his pass catchers to go 23-for-36 for 260 yards and no interceptions in his first action at NRG Stadium in a regular season game.
  1. DeAndre Hopkins and Jalen Ramsey are going to battle one another for a long time. Ramsey had the first interception of his NFL career, but that was covering Will Fuller. Ramsey's length and athleticism are tough for any receiver to face, but Hopkins is far from being just any receiver. Hopkins had one of his best days of the year.
  1. Hopkins turned Ramsey around a few times and made clutch catches throughout the day. He also drew a holding penalty on Ramsey on the final touchdown drive too. Number 10 shined throughout the day, registering eight catches for 87 yards.
  1. The running game didn't do a ton on Sunday as the Jaguars loaded the box repeatedly. When it needed a yard at the end of game, though, it got it by running behind the left side. Left guard Xavier Su'a-Filo knocked Malik Jackson completely out of the hole and running back Lamar Miller ran right through into the end zone.
  1. The story of the day though was the defense. If the Texans had lost that game, it would've been a complete shame. The offense outgained the Jaguars 387 to 150. Clowney was flat out dominant. The pass rush, without Mercilus and Simon, created pressure on Bortles all day. The Jaguars were only able to generate three points on their own, with 17 coming on Lee's kickoff return and off of turnovers.
  1. Oh, the Lee kickoff return...gut...punch. That's all I have to say about that.
  1. Props, though, to Nick Novak who was hurting throughout the second half. Actually, the more I think about it, props to Novak for keeping this team in games the past two weeks. I hate field goals, despise them, but the Texans needed every one of the nine that Novak has attempted and made the past two weeks. After the second half kickoff though, he was limping coming off the field and I didn't think he could even attempt a field goal, yet he walked out on the field to knock home a 45-yard field to make it 13-8.
  1. Quintin Demps picked off a pass for the second game in a row and actually could've had two on similar route concepts. He nearly had one in the first half, but he collided with the Jags receiver Bryan Walters and one of the Texans defensive backs. But, on the last defensive play of the day, Demps was in the perfect spot to jump Allen Robinson's route and end the game.
  1. The defense had a couple of awesome moments on the final couple of drives. Antonio Smith had a near sack. Demps with the pick. It felt nerve-wracking at times, but the defense had it on lock the entire way.
  1. After that near sack on Bortles, the Jacksonville signal caller was furious. He stomped off the field thinking the game was over. I wasn't totally sure whether he was mad at himself, his offensive line, his receivers or his coaching staff. Little did he know that he'd get the ball back... just in time to throw the game-ending interception.
  1. How good was the secondary on Sunday? No receiver on the Jaguars had more than two receptions and 26 yards. 2015 Pro Bowl star Allen Robinson was held to two catches for 15 yards. With all of the injuries and changes in the back end and that group limited the Jaguars to 12 catches for 92 yards.
  1. The image, though, that will stay with me on the final drive, right before the Ninja's near sack was Clowney. He's playing with so much confidence right now, when his team needs it most. He came over to the sideline when it was over, saw me and yelled out "GAME... OVER" and put up his hand for a high five. This is a football-playing dude we have here in Houston, folks.
  1. The game on Sunday was very chippy and the Texans didn't back down in the slightest. There were maybe two or three skirmishes, including a few different near-fights during the game.
  1. One of the most important plays of the whole game happened when Jaguars running back Chris Ivory threw a punch/elbow at Ufomba Kamalu. The Texans defender didn't do anything at all, but Ivory was angry about something, got caught and was flagged with a 15-yard penalty. From that point forward, it was all Texans, leading to the 21-20 win.
  1. Fuller's juggling catch on the sideline was HUGE. A great near one-hander to hang on and get up the sideline for 21 yards at a much needed moment in the game.
  1. For the second straight week, even without the ground game pulling in huge numbers, the Texans dominated the time of possession - nearly 37 minutes to 23 minutes for the Jaguars. The Texans offense ran 78 (!) plays to the Jaguars 50. Wow.
  1. The Texans worst enemy in the first half was the Texans. Two interceptions. The fumble at the goal line that negated a touchdown. Without the turnovers yesterday, with the way the defense played, this one would've been a blowout. But, the Texans made it interesting, unfortunately.
  1. On the fumble at the goal line, Akeem Hunt recovered the ball in the end zone but a Jaguars defender had his hand on the ball. Not hands, a hand, and that was enough to overturn the touchdown, one that desperately needed at the time.
  1. The Texans followed that up with a safety when Neal Sterling grabbed Stephen Anderson and was called for holding. Lucky for Sterling he did, because it could've been a punt block for a potential touchdown. It didn't eliminate the angst about not scoring a touchdown on the previous drive, but it lessened it just slightly.

Well, that's all for now, folks. This week will be a crazy one with all of the playoff scenarios at work during the week leading up to Christmas, not to mention what happens with... well, you know. See ya next week, everyone.

Check out the best photos of the Texans as they take on the Jaguars at NRG Stadium.

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