SPORTS | Jaguars survive in Houston, stay in chase for AFC top seed – Jacksonville Today

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It came down to a matter of inches, but the Jaguars came out of their trip to Houston on Sunday with a 24-21 win over the Texans to improve to 8-3 on the season.

Houston kicker Matt Amindola’s 58-yard game-tying field goal glanced off the crossbar in the final minute, giving Jacksonville revenge after losing to the Texans this season.

The win was highlighted by one of Trevor Lawrence’s best games of his career and the Jaguars’ best pass rush this year.

Lawrence finished with 364 passing yards, second most of his career.

Josh Allen led the Jaguars defense with 2.5 sacks. They harassed Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud for most of the game.

In the second quarter, it was clear that it was going to be a game they “earned”. Houston took just 3:06 on a five-play, 75-yard drive after the Jaguars took a 10-0 lead for a touchdown by Lawrence’s quarterback. On the last play, Houston quarterback Strode kept the game alive with 9 seconds left, bought time and found the tank Dale to cut Jacksonville’s lead to 10-7.

The Jaguars led 13-7 at halftime, but it could have been more. With 10 seconds left, Lawrence found Christian Kirk on a 57-yard completion to the Texans 1-yard line. Doug Pederson chose to go for the field goal instead of kicking it. It was a bold decision not followed by a bold play call. The rumored play for Travis Etienne is filled behind the line of scrimmage. Instead of stretching the lead to 9 and 13 points, the margin remained at 6 at the break.

The Jaguars had their first possession of the second half, but it wasn’t Lawrence’s interception that should have been ruled out by a defensive pass interference call. Houston turned the interception into a touchdown when Stroud ran in the yard to give the Texans their first lead of the game.

The results of those two drives made a huge difference in the game. Instead of taking control of the game, the Jaguars went down in the final minute and that field goal went unanswered.

The Jaguars responded on the following drive with the help of two pass interference calls in the Houston secondary. Lawrence blocked the drive with a touchdown to Calvin Ridley. The duo then added the 2-point conversion to give Jacksonville a 21-14 lead.

Josh Allen’s sack before the 2-minute warning loomed large, as did Mack Allen and Travon Walker later in the drive that pushed Houston to force a long field goal.

The win gives the Jaguars a two-game cushion in the division and the head-to-head split would eliminate Houston’s week-three win at Jacksonville. The Jaguars hold the top seed in the AFC before playing Kansas City and Baltimore later in the day. That will change, of course, but the way the Jaguars have positioned themselves, they could see the final six games with a chance to earn the top seed in the conference and, with it, a first-round playoff berth and a home playoff berth.

And it wouldn’t have been that way but for a few inches on the field goal attempt.

LEAD PHOTO: Houston Texans quarterback CJ Stroud (7) and Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, center, greet each other on the field after their game, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Houston. AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith

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