AFC Southern Metropolis Reporter
The Jaguars couldn’t get ahead of themselves, even though they knew their Week 18 game against the Titans would decide the AFC South title.
They had the Texans first. While facing Houston has zero impact on the division title race, the Week 17 matchup isn’t meaningless. As Jaguars coach Doug Pederson emphasized, there are no games. The Jaguars won’t rest unless injuries keep them out. Momentum is key, especially at this point in the season.
Jacksonville is now carrying more than ever at the right time.
The Jaguars (8-8) beat Houston 31-3 at NRG Stadium on Sunday in one of their most dominant wins of the season. By the third quarter, quarterback Trevor Lawrence (17-for-21, 152 yards, INT), running back Travis Etienne Jr. (9 carries, 108 yards, TD; 3 catches, 32 yards) and right back Brandon Scherff pulled from the game to rest.
The Jaguars will enter the AFC South title game on a four-game winning streak against the faltering Titans (7-9) who have lost six straight.
Jacksonville’s performance Sunday was a teaching tape of how good teams should treat bad teams, all the more so given its historical problems with Houston (2-13-1). The Jaguars have lost nine straight to the Texans since 2017, including a 13-6 loss in Week 5 — the second of five in Jacksonville’s 2-1 start to the season. lost.
The Jaguars took a 21-0 lead at the 11:35 mark of the second quarter.
Jacksonville scored its first touchdown in Game 1: An eight-play, 45-yard opener after a 4th-and-1 stop. The second came on the first play of the fourth possession when Travis Etienne ran 62 yards to the house after Texans safety Jalen Pitt missed a tackle.
The Jaguars defense was responsible for the third score. Outside linebacker Josh Allen fumbled the ball, and cornerback Tyson Campbell recovered the ball and ran back for a 12-yard touchdown.
Jacksonville scored its fourth and final touchdown on the first drive of the second half: an 11-play, 75-yard series that ended with a 3-yard run by running back Snoopy Conner.
The Texans didn’t reach the positive zone until 8:31 of the second quarter, when a miscommunication between Lawrence and receiver Zay Jones led to an interception by Desmond King.
In addition to team dominance, the Jaguars’ players have also reached personal milestones. Veteran wide receiver Christian Kirk (two catches, 21 yards) hit 1,000 receiving yards in a season for the first time in his career. Tight end Evan Engram (1 catch, 16 yards) broke the franchise record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season.
The Jaguars are far better than the Titans going into the division title game. And not particularly close.
Tennessee lost to Houston eight days ago, and Jacksonville beat them by 28 points. The Jaguars haven’t lost since Dec. 4, and the Titans haven’t won since Nov. 17.
Momentum is on Jacksonville’s side.
Will it lead to a division title?
Headlines from FOX Sports:
Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked at Tennessee/USA TODAY Network, where he served as a Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for three seasons (2018-20) for SeattlePI.com before moving to Tennessee.You can follow Ben on Twitter at @Ben Arthur.
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