The Houston Texans arrived in Jacksonville with a depleted roster and left with a 30-16 victory over the Jaguars.
In the first win of QB Davis Mills' career, the Texans had nine players on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. But all three phases came together for a resounding victory over the AFC South rival. After scoring 14 points in the first quarter, the Texans were unable to score another touchdown until their final drive of the game when Mills connected with WR Brandin Cooks on a 43-yard scoring strike with just over two minutes remaining.
"That was awesome, kind of sealed the deal," Mills said. "That was the dagger. I felt like we started fast today and then kind of stalled out a little bit in the second quarter, start of the third quarter and that kind of just really picked us back up and assured the win. It was a great feeling."
Mills completed 19-of-30 passes for 209 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 92.2 passer rating. Cooks caught a team-high seven passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. On special teams, DB Tremon Smith scored on a 98-yard kickoff returned for a touchdown, while K Ka'imi Fairbairn was 3-of-3 on field goals from 52, 51 and 25 yards.
Defensively, the Texans were without DL Jonathan Greenard, DL DeMarcus Walker, LB Christian Kirksey, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, DB Terrence Brooks, DB Terrance Mitchell and A.J. Moore, who were all placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. DB Justin Reid also did not play due to a concussion. Houston's defense sacked Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence three times. Lawrence completed 22-of-38 passes for 210 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 73.4 passer rating. In his first start, LB Garret Wallow finished with a team-tying high of 11 tackles (six solo), a sack, one tackle for loss and a quarterback hit.
"I'm sure there are some things we'd like to correct, but I tell you what, they went in and did a really nice job of filling in and doing what we needed to do to get the win today," Head Coach David Culley said of Sunday's starters on defense.
Mills threw a 22-yard touchdown to Cooks on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. The Texans opening drive was extended after a Jaguars penalty on the punt resulted in a first down for Houston. Mills connected with Cooks on three passes for 33 yards on the 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
The Jaguars kicked a field goal on their opening drive, but the ensuing kickoff ended in another seven points for Houston. Smith fielded the kickoff at the two-yard line and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown. Houston took a 14-3 lead against the Jaguars with 1:26 remaining in the first quarter.
RB James Robinson scored the lone touchdown of the day for the Jaguars on a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter after a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive. The Jaguars trailed 14-10 early in the second quarter.
Fairbairn added a pair of field goals from 52 and 51 yards in the second quarter, including one as time expired, to give the Texans a 20-10 lead at halftime.
Offensively, both teams struggled in the second half after a field goal on the first possession of the second half.
CB Tyson Campbell picked off Mills on a pass intended for TE Jordan Akins. The Jaguars converted the takeaway into three points, adding a 35-yard field goal. The Jaguars trailed by one score, down 23-16 with 11:18 left in the fourth quarter.
However, on their final possession of the game, the Texans moved the ball down the field. Mills found Cooks on a short pass that resulted in a 43-yard touchdown to seal the win. Houston took a 30-16 lead with 2:22 left in the game, capping off a six-play, 55-yard scoring drive that lasted 2:47.
With the win, the Texans improve to 3-2 in the AFC South and 3-11 on the season and will next host the Los Angeles Chargers at home.
Check out the Texans at NRG Stadium on December 26 when they take on the Chargers. Kickoff is set for noon CT. Click here for tickets.
Check out the best photos from the Houston Texans Week 15 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.