Jaguars hold off Texans' late surge to own first place in AFC South


A thriller in Houston ended after a Texans’ field-goal attempt fell just short Sunday, sealing the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 24-21 victory and sole possession of first place in the AFC South.

After Nico Collins found the end zone and the Texans forced a Jaguars punt, rookie quarterback sensation C.J. Stroud had the opportunity for some more fourth-quarter magic. He started at his own 11-yard line and started to make his way downfield with his legs and arm.

Houston ended up going 50 yards, setting up a Matt Ammendola field goal from 58 yards out. He had never hit a field goal in the NFL from that distance, but head coach DeMeco Ryans wanted him to try that instead of going for it on 4th-and-2 with no time-outs left.

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C.J. Stroud runs ball

C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans is sacked by Roy Robertson-Harris #95 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first quarter at NRG Stadium, November 26, 2023, in Houston. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The snap and hold were clean and Ammendola put all of his leg into it, but the ball banged off the bottom of the goal post. That allowed the Jaguars to kneel out the game, moving to 8-3 on the year while the Texans fell to 6-5.

This battle between two great quarterbacks in the league was everything viewers could’ve asked for, but it was Lawrence getting the upper hand in the end. He was 23 of 38 for 364 yards with one passing touchdown, an interception and one rushing score.

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The first touchdown of the game for the Jags came on a sneak by Lawrence, who extended his long frame over the goal line to make it a 10-0 game.

But Stroud, who was 26 of 36 for 304 yards with two passing touchdowns and one rushing score, responded when the Texans needed it in the first half. After Lawrence scored, Stroud made his way 75 yards in just five plays, finding Tank Dell from seven yards out after a scramble outside the pocket.

The Jags added a field goal to make it a six-point game before halftime, but it could’ve been much more when head coach Doug Pederson decided to go for it on 1st-and-goal from the one-yard line with one second left on the clock. While wide receiver Christian Kirk secured a 57-yard catch-and-run that almost resulted in a touchdown, it put his team in position for points. The Texans, though, stopped running back Travis Etienne Jr., keeping Jacksonville’s lead at six points.

Christian Kirk reacts to play

Christian Kirk #13 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates a reception during the second quarter against the Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston on November 26, 2023. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Houston’s defense had another momentum-shifting play to start the second half, when Lawrence was picked off by Derek Stingley Jr. Stroud took that opportunity to give the Texans their first lead of the night, using his legs to bounce out right and get into the end zone.

Lawrence and the Jaguars would respond, this time with Calvin Ridley getting open for a one-yard touchdown. And he would also catch the two-point conversion for the Jags to make it a seven-point game.

Jaguars’ kicker Brandon McManus would hit a 53-yard field goal to make it a 10-point game in the fourth quarter, though he missed a 55-yarder that would not come back to haunt Jacksonville. 

Trevor Lawrence looks to pass

Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks to pass during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium, November 26, 2023, in Houston. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

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Ridley and Kirk both finished with 89 yards for the Jaguars while Luke Farrell had three catches for 55 yards. Meanwhile, the Texans saw Collins secure seven catches for 104 yards to lead Houston in that category.



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