Texans beat Jaguars 24-21 for 1st road victory of season

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Houston Texans found a winning formula for the road: Keep the ball on the ground and avoid turnovers.

It worked to perfection against lowly Jacksonville.

The Texans ran for a season-high 181 yards in a 24-21 victory over the Jaguars on Sunday. It helped that they also scored on defense and set up another touchdown with special teams.

Nonetheless, it was a much-needed road victory - Houston's first of the season - for a team that plays three of its next four away from home. The Texans (6-3) face Oakland (7-2) next week in Mexico City.

''It feels good to get a win on the road, in a division game and it's another step in the right direction,'' cornerback Kareem Jackson said. ''We need to continue to build on this and get better. We did some good things, but we'll go back and watch the film and see what we need to do better. At the end of the day, we got the win and that's all that matters.''

Lamar Miller led the rushing attack with 83 yards on 15 carries, including a 45-yard scamper that set up a touchdown. Akeem Hunt, called up from the practice squad Saturday, added 52 yards on eight carries. Hunt's 17-yard run on a third-and-16 play in the fourth proved huge, setting up Nick Novak's 51-yard field goal.

''The group is starting to jell,'' quarterback Brock Osweiler said. ''The offensive line, the tight ends, the fullbacks and the receivers came up huge today as well. ... I think it's the chemistry. We're now in the second half of season and had a lot of practice together. We're able to master some of those plays, and I think we also have tough, hard-nosed physical backs.

''I can't say enough about those guys.''

Jackson returned an interception 42 yards for a score on Jacksonville's opening possession. Punt returner Tyler Ervin helped make it 21-10 in the third quarter by weaving his way for 57 yards and setting the Texans up at the 7-yard line. Osweiler had two short TD passes.

But it was the ground game that proved to be the difference.

Osweiler threw for just 99 yards.

''As long as there's a win on the end of that, sign me up every single week,'' Osweiler said.

Here are some other things to know about the Texans and Jaguars (2-7), who have dropped five in a row in the series:

BAD BORTLES: If the Jaguars are going to win again this season, they need Blake Bortles to play better. Bortles completed 32 of 49 passes for 265 yards, with two touchdowns, an interception and a fumble. He also misfired on deep passes to Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee. ''It's a work in progress,'' Bortles said. ''I continue to try to give those guys better balls and a chance to go and make a play. And when we have those opportunities, we have to go out and make plays.''

NOVAK MISSES: Novak made up for two misses with his 51-yarder late. He missed wide left from 49 yards out and wide right from 50 yards away.

FLUKY FUMBLE: Of all of Bortles' miscues in his career, one of the oddest ones happened in the second quarter. Under heavy pressure and trying to ground the ball, Bortles' pass hit T.J. Yeldon's foot. The ball bounced up and landed in Whitney Mercilus' hands for what initially was ruled an interception. It was later changed to a lateral and a fumble. ''From the time you start playing quarterback, they tell you if the screen is covered, throw it at his feet,'' Bortles said. ''I was trying to make the smart play and live to play another down and that happens. Unfortunate.''

MISSING MEN: Houston's win was impressive considering how many key players the team was missing. Starting receiver Will Fuller (knee), run-stuffing nose tackle Vince Wilfork (groin) and cornerback A.J. Bouye (ankle) were inactive. So was Jaelen Strong, leaving the Texans with just three healthy wideouts.

DROUGHTS CONTINUE: The Jaguars extended two droughts. They failed to score a touchdown on their opening possession, extending the NFL's longest current streak to 23 games. Even more baffling, they have now gone more than five games without a takeaway. It's officially 23 quarters and counting. ''We've got to do more,'' Jags defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. ''We've got to do better.''

---

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.