HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – The Jacksonville Jaguars spoiled an emotional season opener in Houston on Sunday, beating the Houston Texans 29-7 at NRG Stadium. The Texans were playing their first game of any kind since the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has had a quick trigger with the quarterback position in year’s past. On Sunday against the Jaguars he elected to give the hook to starter Tom Savage and replaced him with rookie Deshaun Watson with the Houston trailing 19-0 at the start of the second half.
In the 2015 season opener O’Brien pulled starter Brian Hoyer in the second half for back-up Ryan Mallett after Hoyer struggled against the Chiefs in the first three quarters.
O’Brien has been adamant the entire offseason that Savage would be the Houston starter in 2017 even though the Texans traded their 2018 first round pick to Cleveland for the opportunity to draft Watson 12th overall back in April.
Watson looked sharp at times and led the Texans to a touchdown on his first NFL drive on a four yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins, but ultimately the Texans were behind the 8-ball trailing by 19 at the half.
The Jaguars picked up the first points of the game on the opening drive, but in the process loss starting wideout Allen Robinson to a knee injury. Robinson caught a 17 yard first down grab near the Texans sideline and walked off the field gingerly
After the Robinson injury the Jaguars relied heavily on their running game for the remainder of the quarter. Rookie runner Leonard F0urnette and Chris Ivory combined for 66 first quarter yards keeping the chains moving. The Texans held the Jaguars on a 1st and goal from the nine yard line and forced another Myers field goal to lead 6-0 at the start of the second.
Midway through the second quarter the Jaguars forced a Tom Savage fumble on a hit by Yannick Ngakoue, Abry Jones had the recovery to give the ball to the Jaguars neat midfield. Fournette then scored his first NFL touchdown from a yard out capping off a nine play drive to extend the Jacksonville lead to 12-0.
On the ensuing Texans possession Savage fumbled again and it was returned 53 yards for a touchdown giving Jacksonville a 19-0 lead going into halftime.
After Watson’s touchdown drive, the Jaguars responded with a 10 play 75 yard drive and a Tommy Bohannon touchdown catch to put the game out of reach at 26-7.
The Jaguars finished with 155 yards rushing with 100 yards and a touchdown from the rookie Fournette.
The offensive line struggled mightily for the Texans as Houston quarterbacks were sacked 10 times by Jacksonville defenders. Watson finished the game 12 for 24 for 102 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
The Texans have a short week as they travel to Cincinnati for a Thursday Night Football match-up against the Bengals.
NOTES: Tight ends CJ Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin, linebacker Brian Cushing, and wide receiver Bruce Ellington all left the game Sunday with concussions. JJ Watt injured his finger late in the first half but returned to the game.
Jaguars wide out Allen Robinson left the game in the first quarter and did not return with a knee injury.
Alex Del Barrio covers the Houston Texans for Sportsradio610.com and is the color commentator for the Houston Dynamo. He also hosts “ADB and Murph” with Matt Murphy which can be heard on Saturday afternoons 4-7 pm Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio