The Houston Texans defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-25, for their first road win of the season.
Deshaun Watson completed 19-of-32 for 281 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 109.0 passer rating. Watson also added 50 yards rushing on 10 carries. Will Fuller V caught five passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, scoring in his sixth consecutive game. Duke Johnson rushed for 41 yards on 16 carries after David Johnson left the game in the first quarter and did not return.
"Sometimes you make plays, sometimes you don't, but but the thing that I felt like we had going is the passing game has been pretty productive," interim head coach Romeo Crennel said. "And so we were able to move the ball passing, so then you don't have to rely on the run."
The Texans defense sacked rookie quarterback Jake Luton twice. J.J. Watt recorded his 100th career sack and Vernon Hargreaves III had an interception in the win. Tyrell Adams finished with a team-high 12 tackles (six solo).
With linebackers Jacob Martin, Whitney Mercilus and Dylan Cole on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Texans lost even more players in their already depleted front seven. Both Brennan Scarlett and Charles Omenihu left in the first half with injuries and did not return.
"As far as this game, I think that our guys stepped up because we did have some injuries," Crennel said. "Guys got banged up and had to miss plays. The guys who were backing them up were able to step into it and do the job and they fought hard, all game. Critical situations we're able to come up and make plays and then we're able to win the game."
Offensively, David Johnson left in the first quarter after a hit by Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack. Johnson was evaluated for a concussion. Left guard Senio Kelemete also left with a concussion and was replaced by Brent Qvale.
Despite struggling with slow starts this season, the Texans scored on their first two possessions of the game to take a 10-7 lead. Luton threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Chark on the opening drive. Watson responded with a two-play scoring drive that ended in a 57-yard touchdown to Brandin Cooks.
"The first drive to Brandin, he caught it, they made a great block on the outside," Watson said. "He got on the edge and once he got on the edge with those guys, they got speed and they got some distance and they can really run. So that's all we need is some space and Brandin took his."
Ka'imi Fairbairn added two field goals from 54 and 30 yards to give Houston a 13-7 lead with 12:27 left in the second quarter.
James Robinson scored on a one-yard touchdown run, but a failed extra point attempt kept the Jaguars from regaining a lead and tied 13-13 with the Texans.
With two minutes remaining in the half, Watson led a 98-yard scoring drive with back-to-back passes to Fuller. After a seven-yard completion, Watson targeted Fuller for a deep pass. A defensive pass interference flag moved the ball 50 yards and into Jaguars territory. Watson scrambled 16 yards to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Duke Johnson.
The Texans held a 20-16 lead at halftime after Josh Lambo kicked a 59-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter.
Houston's defense forced its first turnover of the game when Hargreaves picked off Luton midway through the third quarter. Three plays later, Watson connected with Fuller for a 77-yard touchdown on third down. The Texans had their largest lead of the game, up 27-16 with 6:05 left in the third quarter.
The Texans defense came up big in the fourth quarter with a key fourth-down stop as the Jaguars trailed by eight with 5:31 left in the final quarter. On the next possession, Watt's strip-sack forced the Jaguars to punt after a three-and-out on offense.
Luton scrambled 13 yards for a touchdown with 1:30 left in the game. After a failed two-point conversion, the Jaguars attempted an onside kick but the Texans recovered.
Houston finished the game in victory formation and a 27-25 win in Jacksonville.
The Texans improve to 2-6 on the season, 2-2 under interim head coach Romeo Crennel, and will travel to Cleveland to face the Browns in Week 10.