*JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It didn't take Dom Capers long to hand out game balls after Sunday's 21-0 win over the Jaguars.
A quick flick of the ball and the Texans head coach announced his intentions to give it to the entire defense – coaches and players.
With the first shutout in team history just moments prior and a streak of 11-straight quarters without allowing a touchdown, the coaches mind was almost made up for him.
"I thought our defense did a tremendous job today," Capers said in his post game press conference. "That's the first shutout in Texans history and I thought they went out and played a tremendous game and rose to the occasion every time we were challenged."
The Texans held the Jaguars to 126 yards of total offense (the fewest in team history) and held QB Byron Leftwich to six completions and 35 yards in the air. He was replaced in the fourth quarter by David Garrard, who threw for only 19 yards.
The 21-point victory was the largest in team history. Plus, that 11-quarter streak of no touchdowns is the second-longest in the NFL this season. Philadelphia kept opponents out of the end zone for 12 consecutive quarters earlier in the year.
Technically it is the first shutout in team history, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said the defense came close a week ago in Chicago. The Bears scored on a safety and a field goal after a turnover in Texans territory.
"I think more than anything we're starting to find our identity …" said DE Robaire Smith, who sacked Leftwich in the first quarter. "We're playing together as a whole. We're going out there and making plays."
Houston forced three turnovers in the game, including a fumble that was returned 66-yards for a touchdown by LB Antwan Peek. The Texans are now 5-0 this season when the defense scores a touchdown.
The Texans started the season slow on defense, allowing 300 yards or more in seven of the first eight games. That was to be expected, according to Capers, since the unit starts three rookies – CB Dunta Robinson, LB Jason Babin and SS Glenn Earl.
Robinson forced a fumble, while Babin recovered another fumble and notched his fourth sack of the season.
"I thought all along our defense would improve because the number of young players that we have and all the changes," Capers said. "We've gone 11 straight quarters now without giving up a touchdown. I don't know who else in the league has done that this year but it's certainly an indication of the improvement our defense has made."
Jaguars RB Fred Taylor missed the game with a sprained knee, leaving WR Jimmy Smith as the major offensive weapon of note on the field.
Fangio said the defense tilted some zone coverage Smith's way and paid some extra attention to him, but nothing extravagant.
It was success on third down and pressure on the quarterback that paced the Texans.
Jacksonville converted only one of 10 third down attempts in the game and gained a mere 1.3 yards per pass attempt. The Jaguars averaged nearly five yards per rush, but were forced to pass down 14 points late in the fourth quarter.
The defense clamored to get back on the field late in the game to help preserve the shutout – the first the Jaguars have suffered since 1995.
"You have to understand, we're a good defense," LB Kailee Wong said. "We never thought we weren't a good defense. We play a lot of good offenses, there's no doubt about it. There's some times there's some stretches in our schedule were we played some very tough teams and now we're just playing well."
OFFENSIVE NOTES:The Texans dominated time of possession (38:58) thanks in large part to RB Domanick Daivs.
Davis' 150 yards on the ground were part of a team-record 211 rushing yards in the game. He became the first running back to rush for 150 yards or more against the Jaguars since 2001.
His rushing total for the season includes 1, 077 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.
"It means a lot," Davis said of going over 1,000 yards for the second-straight season. "It means you're pretty good I guess but you just have to keep climbing higher. I mean, set higher goals and just try to reach them."
WR Andre Johnson led the team in receiving with 46 yards and a touchdown, his sixth of the season.