The Texans run defense held the Jaguars to 3.8 yards per carry in Sunday's 30-14 victory at NRG Stadium.
After four games of getting gouged on the ground to the tune of 182 yards per game, Houston stiffened up and held Jacksonville to just 75 rushing yards as a team.
But Sunday didn't begin with promising results.
"After the start of the game, I think we just settled down," interim head coach Romeo Crennel said. "We talked all week about how we needed to play the objective of win your gap before trying to get off a block and help out. After that first drive, because there were a few holes in the defense in that drive, they settled down and began to understand that if I take care of my gap, then my partner will take care of his gap and we'll do a lot better. As it turned out, we did do that and did better."
Jaguars running back James Robinson came into Sunday's contest averaging 4.75 yards per carry. On Jacksonville's first snap from scrimmage, he bulled his way ahead for 11 yards. On the next possession, his second and third carries of the day went for four yards apiece. His fourth rushing attempt was a 14-yard gain. After that quartet of runs, he'd already amassed 33 rushing yards, and it looked like Houston was in for another long day of getting roughed up in the run game.
But the Texans run defense was a wall the rest of the way, as Robinson was limited to 15 yards on his final nine carries. He would finish with 48 rushing yards on 13 attempts.
"He's a good running back," defensive end J.J. Watt said of Robinson. "All week long we harped on the fundamentals, we harped on everybody doing their job, getting back to the basics a little bit, and I thought we did that well.
Obviously, that in conjunction with stopping them early in the game, offense putting up points and then putting them in situations where they had to throw the ball late in the game makes a massive difference."
Safety Michael Thomas, who played 41 percent of the defensive snaps, said the Texans executed at a much higher level than in the previous four games.
"Whenever you had to set the edge, players set the edge," Thomas said. "If you had to make the tackle, players made the tackle. I think that was the difference in this game, and with that there was more energy, guys fed off each other."
It was a good effort against the run, but Watt said the Texans need to do it again. And again. And again.
"We're very pleased with the way we played on defense today," Watt said. "We have to continue to do that and improve and get ourselves even better."
The Texans travel to Nashville for a Sunday matchup with Tennessee in Week 6.