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Barwin EruptionWith a game-high four sacks and 10 tackles, outside linebacker Connor Barwin was a force on Sunday afternoon in Jacksonville. His disruptive play was a key ingredient in the Texans' recipe for victory, and he explained how he was able rack up the big plays.
"You never think you're going to get four sacks, but they come in bunches," Barwin said. "Obviously I'm very grateful about it. Two of them, you gotta give credit to J.J. (Watt) and Antonio (Smith) because the quarterback got flushed out of the pocket."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak called Barwin's performance "exceptional" and credited the defense with being a big reason why they were able to pick up their eighth victory of 2011.
Barwin also acknowledged that the defense's role in the game was going to be crucial to a Houston triumph.
"We said before the game, the team that was going to win was going to be whatever defense played better," Barwin said. "So we knew from the start that it was going to be about how good we played."
After missing six games due to a hamstring injury, wide receiver Andre Johnson was back in the starting lineup. He caught a pair of passes for 22 yards, and also had a first quarter 23-yard reception overturned because of a pass interference call. All in all, it was a quiet return, but Johnson was happy to escape Jacksonville with a victory.
"The main thing is that we won the game," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, we have another obstacle we have to overcome. It's kind of crazy how we're losing players, but somehow we keep finding a way to overcome."
Punt returner Jacoby Jones was busy on Sunday, but he also turned in quality work. Seven times he returned a punt, and he averaged 16.6 yards per. He peeled off returns of 42, 23, 31 and 16 yards, helping to get the Texans' offense in some solid starting field positions. It's the fourth time in 2011 that he's had a punt return of 40-plus yards, his 116 yards in punt returns are a franchise record.
"They've been getting better and continue to get better," Kubiak said of the special teams units. "They've been real close to making some big plays with Jacoby. We had the long field goal and I chose not to kick the other one because I didn't want to flip the field position in the game and let that hurt us. We kept them backed up."
The long field goal Kubiak referenced was a 53-yarder by Neil Rackers in the second quarter.
Also impressive was the play of Sherrick McManis, who contributed with a 45-yard kickoff return, a pair of special teams tackles and a forced fumble.
Shiloh Keo finished with a pair of special teams tackles as well, and tipped a first half Jacksonville punt that wound up traveling just 25 yards.