Texans revert to terrible play in 31-3 rout by Jaguars
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans had one of their worst performances of the season a week after ending a nine-game skid.
The Texans (2-13-1) were routed 31-3 by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, leaving them without a home win for the first time in franchise history.
Houston looked to have made progress in recent weeks, losing close games to Dallas and Kansas City before beating the Titans 19-14 last weekend.
But this weekend, Houston was thoroughly dominated by the Jaguars to snap a nine-game winning streak in the series.
"Our play, this was not good enough in any phase," coach Lovie Smith said. "And all that, of course, starts with me as the head football coach. We have to do a better job. We have one more chance to get this bad taste out of our mouths."
Quarterback Davis Mills lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and the Texans gave up a 62-yard TD to Travis Etienne en route to a 21-0 hole by halftime.
Smith was asked about the missed tackles that led to Etienne's big run.
"I would say mental mistakes . we've got to eliminate that," Smith said. "You talk about run defense, that's what run defense is about. Great running backs get to the second level. You've got to be able to get them down from there."
Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence played only the first drive of the second half and Etienne didn't carry the ball after halftime, but the Texans still couldn't get anything going. They failed to score a touchdown for the first time since a 16-9 loss to Denver in Week 2.
Smith lamented his team's inability to get in the end zone against the Jaguars after averaging 22 points in the last three games.
"There's a body of work now that we have to go with, and the body of work hasn't been good enough," he said. "It's as simple as that."
After being dominated like they were Sunday, it's difficult to say that anything is working on this team.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Of all the things the Texans did poorly Sunday, perhaps the worst thing was their inability to move the ball in key situations. The Texans were stopped on fourth-and-1 from their 45 on the first possession to set the tone for the day.
They went for it again on fourth down from the 10 in the second quarter, but a pass by Mills sailed out of bounds to leave Houston scoreless.
Sunday was just the second time this season when they haven't scored a touchdown.
DL Ogbo Okoronkwo had a sack Sunday to give him a career-high five this season. All have come since Week 13 to make him one of three players in the AFC with at least five sacks in that span. The other two players are New England's Josh Uche (6 1/2) and Cleveland's Myles Garrett (5).
The mistakes by Mills continue to cement that he is not Houston's long-term answer at quarterback. He appeared to have improved in the last couple of weeks but took a step back Sunday in failing to effectively move the offense.
His 13 interceptions this season are tied for second-most in the league and have come in just 14 games after he was benched for two.
He discussed the difficulties of this season.
"It's tough," he said. "You make it so far. You make it to the NFL, and you expect that you're going to have a chance to win every game. And it's just been a struggle."
OL Jimmy Morrissey (concussion) and TE Teagan Quitoriano (thigh) could return this weekend after missing the Jacksonville game.
169 - The Texans, who rank last in the league in run defense, allowed 169 yards rushing on Sunday for their 10th game this season in which they gave up more than 150 yards rushing.
The Texans wrap up this dreadful season Sunday at Indianapolis, where a loss will guarantee them the No. 1 pick in next year's draft.
But Smith is counting on his team to bounce back this week to finish the season on a positive note.
"We've gone through some tough times," he said. "If I'm a betting man, I'll say the guys are going to really show up and play well against the Colts."
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated January 2, 2023