Hoyer, Hopkins help Texans handle Jaguars, 31-20
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Poised in the pocket, and precise with every throw. He even bounced back from a vicious hit.
Brian Hoyer was so good Sunday he impressed coach Bill O'Brien, something that hasn't been easy for either of Houston's quarterbacks this season.
Hoyer threw three touchdown passes on third down, two to rising star DeAndre Hopkins, and the Texans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-20.
Hoyer regained the starting job last week against Indianapolis and looked every bit deserving of O'Brien's decision against Jacksonville (1-5), which lost its fourth in a row and raised more questions about coach Gus Bradley's job security.
''He went in there and managed the game well,'' O'Brien said of Hoyer. ''He has a good calmness about him right now. He is confident, and I am proud of the way he played.''
The Texans (2-4) started emptying the stadium midway through the fourth quarter after Andre Hal returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown and a 31-14 lead. It was the sixth pick-six thrown by Blake Bortles in 19 career starts.
''It's the same old things that are holding us back,'' Bortles said.
Hoyer and Hopkins pretty much had the game in hand well before Bortles' most costly throw.
Hoyer was at his best on the game's most important down, connecting with Arian Foster on third-and-goal from the 7 and then hooking up with Hopkins for two more third-down scores.
After getting leveled by a late hit and leaving for one play, Hoyer returned and found Hopkins in the back of the end zone. Hopkins bobbled the ball briefly before securing it. Hopkins ran by Davon House for a 26-yarder on the next possession, but his best catch may have been a one-hander that he secured against his helmet down the sideline.
''When you have a guy like that who wants the ball, who wants it in crunch time and who has the ability to go out and do it, it's fun to have him on your team,'' Hoyer said.
Hoyer completed 24 of 36 passes for 293 yards. Hopkins, shadowed by House all over the field, finished with 10 receptions for 148 yards. Foster was mostly held in check, running 18 times for 53 yards.
The only negative for Houston was injuries. Cornerback Kareem Jackson departed with a left ankle injury. And backup safety Lonnie Ballentine injured his left knee after making contact with Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson in the fourth quarter. Trainers rushed to put Ballentine's leg in an air cast before carting him off the field.
Robinson was helped off, too. He limped to the locker room with a bruised left leg and was using a crutch after the game.
Robinson caught six passes for 86 yards and a touchdown before the injury.
Bortles completed 30 of 53 passes for 331 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. The first pick came near the goal line at the end of the first half. Jacksonville could have tied the game at 10 heading into the locker room, but Hal stepped in front of Bortles' low throw to Julius Thomas.
Bradley dropped to 8-30 in three seasons.
''These are hard because I think they're teaching us what it takes to be a consistent team and we're not there yet or a team that can win right now at this point,'' Bradley said. ''Our team is going to learn from this and we'll grow.''
Thomas, Robinson and Allen Hurns had touchdown receptions for Jacksonville, which had little success running the ball without rookie T.J. Yeldon.
The Jaguars lost for the eighth time in 10 games against their AFC South rival.
''The crazy thing is we're 1-5, but we're not a 1-5 team,'' Jaguars running back Denard Robinson said.
NOTES: Houston now heads to Miami next week with a chance to sweep three games against Sunshine State teams. The Texans' first win came against Tampa Bay last month. ... The Texans finished with three turnovers after having an NFL-low two in their first five games. ... Jaguars DT Sen'Derrick Marks made his season debut, but wasn't much of a factor. ... Thomas finished with seven catches for 78 yards. ... Jaguars S Johnathan Cyprien surely will get fined for his late hit on Hoyer.
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