Jaguars look to snap 9-game skid against Texans on Sunday
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans haven't had much success against anyone over the last three seasons.
But no matter how bad things have been, the one thing they've been able to count on is beating the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mired in another terrible year, Houston (2-12-1) enters Sunday's game against Jacksonville (7-8) looking to extend its winning streak in the series to 10 games.
The Texans snapped a nine-game overall skid last week with a win over Tennessee to give them their first victory since beating the Jaguars 13-6 on Oct. 6.
The Jaguars have won three in a row overall to leave them in the hunt for their first AFC South title since 2017. This week's game has no bearing on the division race, as it will come down to next week's regular-season finale against the Titans. But Jacksonville would still like to end the skid against Houston.
The Jaguars haven't notched a win in the series since a 45-7 victory on Dec. 17, 2017.
"Our mindset is let's not lose any more this season," Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. "That's what we've got in front of us. That's what we have to do if we want to get to where we want to be."
The Texans look to build on their history against the Jaguars on Sunday and coach Lovie Smith said their winning streak is something he has addressed with them this week.
"We are aware of some of the success we've had in the past," he said. "I wish the past could help you, but it really can't. It's going to come down to this game, different teams. A lot has changed this year between the two of us. But history, yes, we do."
Houston quarterback Davis Mills brought up the streak this week without being asked about it.
"It's hard to beat a team once," he said. "We've beaten the Jaguars nine times in a row as this point. We're excited for the opportunity to make it 10."
Lawrence is looking to atone for what he believes was a poor performance in the first meeting with the Texans this season. The 2021 No. 1 overall pick threw for 286 yards, but had two interceptions without a TD pass.
"You look at the way we played the first game, especially watching the tape this week going back through it, it's like some of that stuff is hard to watch," Lawrence said. "Offensively and personally didn't play near my best, and we just left a lot out there."
Jaguars left tackle Walker Little, a second-round draft pick in 2021, will play in his hometown for the first time since high school.
Little starred at Episcopal High in Houston, less than 10 miles from NRG Stadium, and helped the Knights win a state championship in 2014. He was rated the No. 1 high school prospect in 2017 by 247Sports before choosing Stanford over Texas.
He missed most of the 2019 season following a knee injury and opted out of 2020 because of COVID-19. Jacksonville drafted him 45th overall, and with starter Cam Robinson (knee) out for the rest of the season, Little is getting a chance to play extensively for the first time since 2018.
"Tons of confidence in Walker," offensive coordinator Press Taylor said. "He's got a job to do and we expect him to do it at a high level."
Mills has played better in the last three games after he was benched for two games. The second-year player has thrown just two interceptions in the last three games after being picked off five times in the three games before his benching.
"I think I've progressed," he said. "We talked about it ... being benched made me go back and reflect on what I was doing the first half of the season versus how I can perform now. Step my game up - I think I've done that."
If Jacksonville ends its nine-game skid vs. Houston, it would be the latest one the Jaguars have snapped this season.
The team already ended a 20-game skid to NFC teams, an 18-game road losing streak, a 14-game road skid against the AFC South, an eight-game slide in Nashville and a six-game skid in prime-time road games.
"We've had a lot of firsts this season, which obviously has been good," Jacksonville coach Doug Pederson said. "I don't put a lot of stock in those types of things. ... I've just got to make sure our guys are in the right mind space this week and ready for this football team. ... That's something that the coaches may talk about, but I don't mention that with the players."
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Updated December 29, 2022