In their London debut, the Texans defeated AFC South rival Jacksonville Jaguars 26-3 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Deshaun Watson completed 22-of-28 passes for 201 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He finished with a 120.4 passer rating. Watson also added 37 yards rushing on seven carries. Duke Johnson caught five passes for 68 yards and also ran for his first touchdown as a Texan. Carlos Hyde led the team with 19 carries for 160 yards, averaging 8.4 yards per carry against his former team. Darren Fells and DeAndre Hopkins each caught a touchdown pass in the win.
“I think that Deshaun is playing at a really good level, a really high level,” head coach Bill O’Brien said after the game. “I think he understands what we are trying to do. He’s making really good decisions with the ball. He’s managing the game. He’s managing the clock. He’s doing a really good job of just running the offense. The quarterback on the field is the coordinator on the field. He makes the decisions on the plays to run. I thought we ran the ball well today, I thought we were efficient in the passing game.”
Houston also forced four turnovers, including interceptions by safeties Jahleel Addae and Justin Reid.
The special teams unit recovered a botched snap on a Jaguars field goal attempt.
“Being able to capitalize on a few of the turnovers, especially with our special teams playing out of their minds as well too, so getting some great field position for our offense,” linebacker Whitney Mercilus said. “Our offense was just out there scoring points so that really helped out.
The Texans run defense also held the AFC’s leading rusher, Leonard Fournette, to just 40 yards on 11 carries. They've not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season.
“Just everybody doing their job, the coaches did an unbelievable job with the game plan, me relaying the call to the d-linemen and the DBs, everybody was in the right spot,” linebacker Benardrick McKinney said. “We just had fun and were just physical up front.”
Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew completed 27-of-47 for 309 yards, but threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.
The Texans took an early 3-0 lead after Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 52-yard field goal on the opening drive.
Watson led the Texans on a 14-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended in a one-yard touchdown pass to Fells. Houston successfully converted six first downs on the drive, including a fourth down when Watson completed a 12-yard pass to Jordan Akins. Watson also pitched a lateral to Hyde, escaping the grasp of a pair of Jaguars defenders, on the drive.
After a blocked extra point attempt, the Texans extended their lead to 9-0 with 5:55 left in the second quarter.
Jacksonville scored its first points just before halftime on a 30-yard field goal by Josh Lambo.
At the intermission, Houston led the Jaguars 9-3.
On the opening drive of the second half, a high snap on the Jaguars field goal attempt was recovered by Houston at midfield. Briean Boddy-Calhoun was credited with the forced fumble. Fairbairn added his second field goal of the day, a 42-yard kick, and the Texans led 12-3 with 4:57 left in the third quarter.
The Texans defense allowed just one Jaguars first down on the next drive. Houston’s offense answered with a touchdown. On the second play of the series, Hyde rumbled for 48 yards to get Houston into Jaguars territory. Hopkins caught a 21-yard pass from Watson and was down just short of the goal line. On the next play, Johnson scored on a one-yard touchdown run to cap off the five-play, 79-yard drive. The Texans pulled away, up 19-3 at the end of the third quarter.
The Jaguars final four possessions ended in turnovers, with two interceptions followed by two fumbles. Gareon Conley and Dylan Cole both ended Minshew’s drives in the fourth quarter. On the second interception. Justin Reid picked off Minshew and returned it 37 yards to the Jaguars three-yard line. Watson threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Hopkins two plays later and the Texans took a 26-3 lead in the fourth quarter.
On the final play of the game, Brennan Scarlett’s strip sack on Minshew resulted in a fumble recovery by Cole.
The Texans improved to 6-3 on the season, heading into the bye week.