Jaguars lead woeful Texans 24-17 after 3rd quarter

Jaguars lead woeful Texans 24-17 after 3rd quarter
December 5, 2013, 11:04 pm
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Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, left, gains yardage before he is run out of bounds by Houston Texans strong safety D.J. Swearinger (36) during the first half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

(APWF)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Chad Henne threw two touchdown passes for the second consecutive week, and the Jacksonville Jaguars used some trickery to build a 24-17 lead over the Houston Texans after three quarters Thursday night.

Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch dialed up a double pass that led to a score and a 24-10 lead in the third quarter. Henne threw behind the line of scrimmage to receiver Ace Sanders, who then heaved a deep ball across the field to running back Jordan Todman.

No defender was near Todman as he camped under Sanders' throw. Rookie D.J. Swearinger pushed Todman just as he hauled in the 21-yard TD reception.

It was the second consecutive week a non-quarterback threw a TD pass for Jacksonville. Maurice Jones-Drew tossed an 8-yard score to college teammate Marcedes Lewis in a 32-28 win at Cleveland last week.

Sanders and Jones-Drew now have as many TD passes this season as benched Jaguars starter Blaine Gabbert.

Gabbert was the only quarterback who hadn't played in this one.

The Texans benched Case Keenum late in the third quarter. Keenum completed 16 of 29 passes for 159 yards, with a touchdown and an interception, before giving way to Matt Schaub.

Schaub immediately drove Houston down the field, capping a 76-yard drive with a 5-yard TD pass to Garrett Graham. That trimmed Jacksonville's lead to 24-17. Schaub was 6-of-7 passing for 76 yards.

Henne completed 10 of 22 passes for 95 yards and two scores.

He hooked up with Lewis for a 1-yard scoring strike in the first quarter and found Cecil Shorts III for a 6-yarder in the second.

The Texans avoided a first-half shutout when Keenum threw a strike to Keshawn Martin with 1:53 remaining.

Keenum completed 12 of 19 passes for 109 yards in the first half. His last pass of the half was intercepted, ending a chance to tie the game. The Jaguars nearly made it 21-7, but Henne just overthrew Shorts on a deep ball. Jacksonville settled for a 40-yard field goal - thanks to another Houston penalty - and a 17-7 lead.

The Texans have been flagged 12 times for 132 yards - some of them keeping drives alive.

The Jaguars took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards for the team's fourth opening-drive touchdown in its last five games.

Jones-Drew has 14 carried for a season-high 103 yards - the first time he's topped the century mark this season.

Henne completed 4 of 6 passes for 23 yards on the opening drive, the last one a quick fade pass to Lewis, who out-jumped 5-foot-10 cornerback Kareem Jackson in the corner of the end zone.

Houston punted on its first three possessions, creating more momentum for the home team.

Henne's second TD pass gave Jacksonville its largest lead (14 points) of the season. Henne hit Shorts out of bounds on a second-down play, but went right back to his leading receiver on the next snap. Shorts beat Johnathan Joseph on a quick out.

The Jaguars (3-9) have won three of four games since their bye, a modest turnaround under first-year coach Gus Bradley after starting the season 0-8. One of the victories came against Houston, a 13-6 punt-fest 11 days ago.

The Texans (2-10) managed a season-low 218 yards in that one, prompting some players to apologies to the city. Receiver Andre Johnson called it the ''lowest point'' of his 11-year career.

Another loss to Jacksonville surely would increase the possibility of changes in Houston, which has lost a franchise-record 10 consecutive game. Coach Gary Kubiak, who suffered a mini-stroke last month but returned to coaching soon after, downplayed all the attention on his job status.

''I've got too many other people to worry about and things to worry about,'' Kubiak said. ''I don't worry about myself.''

The Jaguars have lost six in a row at home, a streak Bradley pointed out to players in meetings this week.

Jacksonville has won three in a row on the road, including the last two weeks, and was hoping to carry that momentum into EverBank Field for the prime-time game between two of the league's worst teams.

The loser of the game, especially if it's the Texans, would have the inside track to the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. If the Jaguars lose and finish the season with three wins, they likely would get the top pick based on weakness of schedule.

And with both teams looking to draft a quarterback, many have dubbed this the ''Bridgewater Bowl.''

It could be a deciding game for who gets first shot at Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, widely considered the top quarterback available - if he enters the draft.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org