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(Sunday, December 6th)
Final Score: Jacksonville 23, Houston 18
Jacksonville, FL (Sports Network) - David Garrard threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns, as the Jacksonville Jaguars held off the Houston Texans, 23-18, to stay in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.
Josh Scobee kicked three field goals, and the Jaguars (7-5) came up with three interceptions to help secure their fourth win in the last five games. Jacksonville cannot win the AFC South, as Indianapolis has already secured the division title, but the Jaguars remain in contention for a wild card spot.
"As a football team, we recognize that we've got three quarters of our season behind us," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said. "We've played well enough in those three quarters to be in the hunt. We've got a heck of a closing schedule here, we've got two games at home and then two games on the road, and this fourth quarter's going to be a challenge."
Jacksonville hosts Miami and Indianapolis before playing at New England and Cleveland to end the season.
Meanwhile, the fourth loss in row for Houston (5-7) likely dropped the Texans out of the playoff picture. Matt Schaub completed 19-of-27 passes for 207 yards and a score, with one interception, but missed part of the first half with a dislocated left shoulder suffered on Houston's first play from scrimmage.
Rex Grossman was 3-of-9 for 33 yards with a pick before Schaub returned in the second quarter.
Chris Brown ran for a score, but was also intercepted on a halfback pass attempt with the Texans deep in Jaguars territory in the fourth quarter.
Houston faced an uphill battle all day, as the Texans fell behind 17-0 and never recovered, though they had chances in the second half.
A 24-yard field goal by Scobee with 4:33 left in the third quarter increased the Jacksonville lead to 23-9.
Houston struggled to pick up yardage on its next drive and had to punt, but caught a break when Mike Thomas had the ball graze off his fingertips on the return. Andre Davis recovered to set the Texans up at the Jacksonville 16.
Houston was pushed to a 4th-and-3 and was going for it, but a false start penalty forced the Texans to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Kris Brown with 13 seconds left in the quarter.
The Texans appeared to get another break on the ensuing Jaguars drive, as Garrard was sacked and lost the ball, which Houston defensive end Antonio Smith recovered. But Jacksonville challenged the call, which was reversed, and the Jaguars punted.
Houston did get into Jaguars territory a few plays later, as Schaub found Andre Johnson for a 53-yard gain to the Jacksonville 16. The Texans advanced to the five, where they had a 1st-and-goal. Schaub rolled out to his right and pitched to Chris Brown, who, pressured and lofted up a wobbly throw. Gerald Alexander was there to make the easy pick at the goal line, as Houston came up empty.
"It looked like it was developing the same way we were practicing it," Schaub said. "The guy was hitting Chris as he was throwing it. Running backs aren't used to taking a hit as they're throwing the ball and being able to still get enough on it...It's just another one of those missed opportunities that we've got to avoid as a football team."
The Texans forced the Jaguars into a three-and-out, and this time took their possession for a score. Houston didn't run during the entire drive, as Schaub led his team down the field. He converted a fourth down along the way, and Kevin Walter made a leaning catch over the middle for a gain of 20 yards, bringing the ball to the Jacksonville 12.
Schaub then hit Johnson with a short pass, and the receiver bounced off a defender to get to the right sideline before stretching the ball across the goal line. Johnson was ruled down at the one, but on the next play Schaub placed a ball over Johnson's shoulder in the left side of the end zone, as Houston got within 23-18 with 4:01 to go after the two-point conversion failed.
But the Texans never got the ball back, as the Jaguars picked up three first downs to run out the clock.
The Jaguars got on the board with a 51-yard field goal from Scobee on the game's first drive.
Schaub left the game moments later, as he was sacked by Jaguars defensive end Derrick Harvey and landed on his left side. The quarterback grabbed at his left, non-throwing shoulder in pain while on the ground, and went to the locker room shortly thereafter.
Grossman entered and had his second pass deflected for an interception.
The Jaguars took over and reached the one-yard line, but the Texans stuffed Maurice Jones-Drew twice to force a turnover on downs.
Neither team scored again until early in the second quarter, when Nate Hughes caught Garrard's 35-yard pass in stride in the back of the end zone.
Jacksonville reached the end zone on its next touch, which featured a 62-yard pass play from Garrard to Zach Miller. Garrard ended the march with a four- yard TD pass to Ernest Wilford, making it a 17-0 game with 7:06 left in the half.
Schaub then re-entered the game and Houston got its first score, an eight-yard run by Chris Brown. Scobee's 46-yarder with five seconds left put Jacksonville ahead 20-7 at the break.
Early in the third quarter, Garrard slipped in the end zone and was tackled for a Texans safety. But Houston's drive following the safety ended in an interception, as the ball popped up in the air after Alexander hammered David Anderson. Justin Durant grabbed it and raced 27 yards to the Houston 40 to set up a Scobee kick.
Johnson finished with seven catches for 99 yards to go over the 1,000 receiving yard mark for the fifth time in his career...Garrard completed 15- of-28 passes, while Jones-Drew ran 24 times for 76 yards...The Texans played without running back Steve Slaton (neck), and totaled just 68 rushing yards. Ryan Moats had 41 on 12 attempts...The Jaguars were 8-for-16 on third downs.
12/06 19:21:48 ET