Texans 27, Jaguars 7: Power Game Makes Long-Awaited Return
A week ago, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said he'd have trouble sleeping after his team struggled in the run game on both sides of the ball - a concerning trend that began in the preseason.
Photo by Marco Torres Not the Texans we saw against the Dolphins
He should rest a lot easier this week.
The Texans (2-0) physically demolished Jacksonville (0-2) up front Sunday, leading to a 27-7 win that was never in doubt. These weren't the finesse, passing game-led Texans that we saw against Miami and in August. This was the smash-mouth version we last saw eight months earlier in Baltimore.
"We emphasized it all week in practice," said Arian Foster, who rushed 28 times for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Indeed, the biggest turnaround came with Foster and the offense, which faced a Jaguars defense that is traditionally very stout (No. 6 overall in 2011). On Sunday, the Texans put up a whopping 417 yards against that unit - more than half of which (216) came on the ground.
Most impressively, the Texans held the ball for an eye-popping 43 minutes and 17 seconds.
"It's just will and determination," left tackle Duane Brown said. "The running game is something we hang our hat on."
The defense, meanwhile, was spectacular as ever, holding the Jags to a franchise-low 117 yards. J.J. Watt again led the way with 1.5 sacks, two pass deflections, a fumble recovery and three tackles.
The final 20-point margin was the same as it was against the Dolphins, but this was a very different game. In the opener, the Texans made several big plays but generally struggled to match the physicality of Miami. This week, they controlled both lines of scrimmage from the outset.
Here's a look at five standouts that contributed to the cause:
5.) Ben Jones
Part of the offensive line's turnaround came amid a change in personnel. Jones, a fourth-round center out of Georgia, has been transitioning to guard and rotated every other series with incumbent starter Antoine Caldwell. In his first meaningful snaps, Jones actually seemed to outplay the veteran. Particularly of note was a block Jones threw to spring Ben Tate for a 23-yard run late in the first quarter, setting up the Texans' first touchdown.
Against Miami and in the preseason, the Texans only found success running to the left side behind Pro Bowl tackle Duane Brown. This week, the Texans' run game finally found the balance they've been searching for since the offseason departures of Eric Winston and Mike Brisiel.