It wasn’t pretty, but the Houston Texans (8-6) were able to pull away with another divisional win by engineering an epic comeback against the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12). The Texans are now 5-0 against AFC South opponents and are still in control of their own destiny to the postseason. However, the red-hot Tennessee Titans (8-6) are currently nipping at their heels, which should set up a winner-take-all match-up when these two teams clash in Week 17. Here are four takeaways from the Texans’ eighth win of the season:
- Tom Savage is a clear upgrade to Brock Osweiler
After Osweiler threw two ugly interceptions in the first half of play, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien decided enough was enough and benched him in favor of Savage. This decision proved to be the right one from the get-go on Savage’s first pass, where he tossed a 32-yard dime to Wendall Williams.
Savage finished the day completing 23 passes for 260 yards and wasn’t responsible for any turnovers. He also helped engineer a comeback drive at the end of the fourth quarter, which would be the Texans’ lone offensive touchdown of the game.
At this point in the season, with no room for error, it’s hard to imagine a situation where Osweiler returns to the starting lineup unless Savage gets injured. Not only did Savage continuously make big throws to move the chains, but he avoided any turnovers, which is something Osweiler can’t seem to do. Keep in mind Savage threw for 260 yards in only a little over two quarters, which is difficult to do, especially against Jacksonville’s mighty secondary.
- Houston’s run game wasn’t explosive against Jacksonville, but it was still reliable
Lamar Miller wasn’t flashy against the Jaguars, but he came in clutch when it mattered. With 2:51 left to go in regulation, the Texans found themselves on Jacksonville’s one-yard line, and needed to score a touchdown to potentially take the lead.
Miller capped of an eight play, 52-yard drive by taking the ball for a one yard plunge in the end zone, which gave the Texans their first lead of the game. Miller churned up 63 yards on 22 carries, and his longest run of the game was 11 yards. Miller is the only Texan to score a touchdown in the past two weeks.
- The Texans’ defense shut down the Jaguars’ offense
Blake Bortles was held at bay by Houston’s secondary, and completed only 12 passes for 92 yards in the entire ballgame. Jacksonville took advantage of their two interceptions from Osweiler, collecting 10 points off of the turnovers, but once the Jaguars couldn’t get any more takeaways, their offense returned to their pathetic state.
The Jaguars’ only score on offense came from a one-yard quarterback sneak by Bortles, which put Jacksonville up 13-0. Jadeveon Clowney and Benardrick McKinney were each able to harass Bortles by recording two combined sacks. Clowney and McKinney also led Houston in tackles against Jacksonville, collecting a grand total of 12.
With no timeouts left, the Jaguars had one last shot to get into field goal range to potentially win by a score of 23-21. However, with 1:08 left to go in the game, Bortles forced a deep ball, and Quintin Demps was able to register Houston’s only interception of the game, which effectively sealed a hard-fought victory.
- Nick Novak was the quiet hero for Houston again
If Novak missed any of his four field goal attempts (or even his extra point try), the outcome of this game would’ve been drastically different. Novak was responsible for 13 of Houston’s 21 points in this game and he continuously bailed out the Texans when their offense stalled out on third down with a chance to score.
Since Houston has yet to blow out an opponent this season, having a reliable kicker on standby is crucial. For the second-straight week, the Texans witnessed a picture-perfect performance from their kicker.