By Shawn Lealos
The Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts both won this week, which put the Houston Texans in a must-win situation as well. With the Texans trailing 13-0 to the Jacksonville Jaguars early in the game on Sunday, and Brock Osweiler throwing two interceptions, head coach Bill O’Brien made the decision to bench his starting quarterback. Backup QB Tom Savage came in and won the game for the Texans to allow Houston to hold the AFC South lead. The Jacksonville Jaguars lost so badly that they fired head coach Gus Bradley just hours after the loss. Here is a look at the Houston Texans team grades after this big win.
Brock Osweiler received a big money contract to leave the Denver Broncos to join the Houston Texans this season. He has played well below expectations, but the Texans, now with an 8-6 record, still have the AFC South lead. Despite poor play, Osweiler has kept his job, but things fell apart against Jacksonville. Osweiler had thrown two interceptions by the second quarter and Tom Savage had to come in to take his place in the game.
Savage and the Texans were losing 20-11 by the end of the third quarter, but the backup QB put the team in field goal position to make it a six-point game. Then, Lamar Miller ran in for a touchdown to give the Texans the one-point win. Savage finished the game, completing 23 of 36 passes for 260 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. With a new quarterback in the game, star receiver DeAndre Hopkins came back to life with eight receptions for 87 yards. Lamar Miller ran for 63 yards and a touchdown in the win.
The Houston Texans defense completely shut down Blake Bortles in this game. The Jaguars quarterback only completed 12 of 28 passes for 92 yards and no touchdowns. Quintin Demps intercepted Bortles once while Benardrick McKinney and Jadeveon Clowney each recorded a sack as well. On top of only letting Bortles throw for 92 yards, the Texans only allowed Chris Ivory to run for 44 yards and T.J. Yeldon to gain 28 yards. That was a total of only 150 yards by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the game.
Special Teams: B
One reason that the Houston Texans were losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first half was because of special teams. Marqise Lee returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown. Houston kicker Nick Novak remained hot late in the season for Houston, hitting all four field goal attempts and his only extra point try. Shane Lechler was also as great as expected, dropping four of his five punts inside the 20.
There is no telling if Brock Osweiler could have turned things around and won the game for the Houston Texans, but it was a gutsy move to put in Tom Savage. While Savage didn’t score a touchdown himself, he also didn’t turn the ball over. The QB led Houston down for four field goals and put his team in the position to score a touchdown on Lamar Miller’s run. Bill O’Brien wanted to keep the lead in the AFC South, and his gamble paid off in this game.
The Houston Texans pulled off the win despite early mistakes, and they now hold the lead in the AFC South thanks to a tiebreaker over the (8-6) Tennessee Titans. However, Tennessee is playing hot and the two teams play in the final game of the season. If the Texans win out, they take the AFC South. If they falter, they could not only lose the AFC South, but also miss the playoffs completely. Up next is a home game against the (5-8-1) Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, Dec. 24.