Texans fall to Jags 37-17

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JACKSONVILLE - Missed opportunities proved costly for the Texans on Sunday, who let a close game get away in the second half of an eventual 37-17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in front of a paid attendance of 63,715 at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.

The same issues that have cropped up in recent weeks for the Texans reappeared in today's defeat. In five red zone trips, the offense converted only one opportunity late in the fourth quarter. Otherwise, Kris Brown continued his torrid pace by nailing all three of his field goal attempts. On another trip inside Jacksonville's 20-yard line,

Additionally, the Texans' run game had trouble getting off the ground. Running back Ahman Green returned to the starting lineup, but finished with 44 yards on only 16 carries mostly in the first half.

"We're playing a football team that's pretty good against the run," coach Gary Kubiak said after the game. "I thought we did do some better things and didn't have a lot to show for it because we had to throw the ball throughout the second half. I thought Ahman's presence did help us. We still have a long way to go. He definitely makes us better if he's in there."

After heading into halftime down only 10-6, the Texans saw the Jaguars score 21 fourth quarter points, including a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker Daryl Smith that stretched Jacksonville's lead to 21 points midway through the final period.

Wide receiver Kevin Walter was one of the bright spots for Houston. Stepping up in place of wide receiver Andre Johnson, who was sidelined for his fourth consecutive game with a sprained knee, Walter finished with a career-high and game-high 12 catches for 160 yards (13.3 avg.).

"He's a man," Kubiak said of Walter. "It doesn't matter where we play. He's going to show up and make every tough play. I said that last year. I was disappointed with myself that I didn't get him more involved with the offense. As you can see now, he's very much involved and he can be counted on."

The Texans forced three turnovers, all fumble recoveries, and capitalized on two of those takeaways. Cornerback Demarcus Faggins led the team with eight tackles, including one fumble recovery.

{QUOTE}After the Texans received the opening kickoff, quarterback Matt Schaub scrambled for six yards on the first play from scrimmage. On third-and-four, Schaub hit Walter, who was tackled at the Jacksonville 28 after a career-long 46-yard catch. Another catch by Walter for 14 yards moved the Texans to the three-yard line. Three plays and a Houston timeout later, Brown nailed a 20-yard field goal after Schaub was stopped short of the goal line on a run up the middle.

Defensive tackle Anthony Maddox, formerly of the Jaguars, sacked Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard for an eight-yard loss on the team's first snap. But running back Fred Taylor broke off a 76-yard run to the Houston 14 on the next play to put his team in scoring position.

After a Jacksonville timeout, Garrard's pass to wide receiver Matt Jones on third-and-five from the nine-yard line fell incomplete, leading to John Carney's 27-yard field goal that evened the score. But the field goal was nullified after Jaguars tackle Maurice Williams was flagged 15 yards for a face mask on the play, pushing Carney's field goal attempt to 42 yards, which missed wide right.

Green gained 10 yards on two carries before Schaub found tight end Owen Daniels open for a 21-yard completion to the Jacksonville 37. Schaub found Daniels open again on the next play, this time for a 23-yard gain to the 10-yard line, before wide receiver André Davis hauled in a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Before the extra point, though, Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio challenged the call, arguing that Davis fumbled the ball prior to crossing the goal line. The officials reversed their call after the review, giving the Jaguars the ball at their 20-yard line since the ball was fumbled out of the end zone.

With 4:26 left in the first quarter, Taylor gained a yard on first down. Two plays later, cornerback Dunta Robinson was flagged for pass interference on wide receiver Ernest Wilford, giving the Jaguars 20 yards and a first down near midfield.

Moments later, the Texans' offense returned to the field after rookie cornerback Fred Bennett forced a fumble on wide receiver Reggie Williams. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans recovered the ball at the Jacksonville 48.

But on third-and-11, Schaub was sacked by cornerback Terry Cousin for a 10-yard loss to the Houston 41. Matt Turk's 56-yard punt was downed at the Jaguars' three-yard line with three seconds remaining before the second quarter.

The Texans' defense forced another turnover on the next series when free safety C.C. Brown popped the ball loose on Williams. Faggins recovered the fumble on the Jacksonville 40 for no gain.

Soon after, Schaub found Davis open for a 17-yard gain, but overthrew Daniels on third-and-eight from the Jaguars' 17-yard line, leading to Brown's 35-yard field goal that stretched the Texans' lead to 6-0 with 9:38 left before halftime.

Wide receiver Dennis Northcutt caught two passes for 34 yards on the next series to move Jacksonville deep into Texans' territory. On third-and-goal at the three-yard line, Garrard's pass intended to Jones was defensed by Faggins for the second consecutive play, but Williams was penalized for being offside. Garrard then hit tight end George Wrighster for a touchdown, but tight end Greg Estandia was penalized for offensive pass interference, leading to third-and-goal from the 11-yard line. The call was overturned, though, resulting in the touchdown (click here for referee's explanation).

An attempted onside kick on the ensuing kickoff was recovered by Carney at the Jacksonville 41 to leave the Jaguars' offense on the field. After moving the ball to the Houston 23 inside the two-minute warning, the drive stalled when Garrard was tackled for a short gain on third-and-10. Carney's 37-yard field goal attempt split the uprights to give the Jaguars a 10-6 lead that they carried into halftime.

A 10-yard catch by Northcutt and a pass interference penalty on Ryans, gave Jacksonville a first down at their 37-yard line on the opening series of the second half. On fourth-and-four at the 28-yard line, Matt Jones caught a five-yard pass to move the chains. Garrard's 12-yard scramble set up his nine-yard touchdown pass to Williams. Carney's extra point was blocked by safety Michael Boulware, making the score 16-6 with 8:17 left in the third quarter.

Schaub was penalized for intentional grounding on first down, which led to another Turk punt after Walter's seven-yard gain to the Houston 15 on third-and-21. The Jaguars muffed the punt return, though, and safety Will Demps recovered at the Houston 46 to keep the offense on the field.

After Brown's 33-yard field goal cut Houston's deficit to 16-9 with 1:40 remaining in the third quarter, Jones-Drew's 28-yard catch and run moved the Jaguars into Houston territory. To cap the eight-play, 78-yard drive, Jones-Drew scored on a seven-yard run off the right tackle to give the Jaguars a 23-9 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter after Carney's extra point.

On the Texans' next possession, Schaub was tackled from behind by defensive end Paul Spicer, who forced a fumble. Linebacker Daryl Smith recovered the loose ball and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown that helped make the score 30-9 with 8:55 left in the game.

Using a no-huddle offense, Schaub returned to complete his first three passes on the series for 34 yards. But his fourth pass attempt intended for Davis was intercepted by cornerback Brian Williams at the Jacksonville 27 despite Kubiak's challenge.

After Jones-Drew broke off a 57-yard touchdown run to help extend the Jaguars' lead to 37-9, Sage Rosenfels replaced Schaub and completed his first 10 passes for 81 yards to lead the offense to the Jaguars' three-yard line. His one-yard play action pass to fullback Vonta Leach, followed by running back Samkon Gado's scoring run on the two-point conversion, made the score 37-17 with 29 seconds left in the contest.

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