ReFo: Jaguars @ Texans, Week 11
Houston, at 8-1, facing Jacksonville, at 1-8, in an AFC South clash. I’m sure everyone picked this as a win for the Texans, and though they ended up with the victory, it took them until the last couple of minutes of overtime to get it after trailing for much of the game.
Blaine Gabbert was knocked from the game with an elbow injury by the Texans’ defense and, after initially being listed as probable to return, he was downgraded to questionable and then doubtful as the better Chad Henne played in his stead. Henne was able to spark an offense that had struggled all season long, and suddenly inspire life in first-round draft pick Justin Blackmon.
Houston ultimately got the win thanks to their own quarterback-to-receiver combination of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. The duo hooked-up one final time for the play that ended the game, a bubble screen taken the distance for the game-winning score deep in overtime.
Jacksonville – Three Performances of Note
Turns Out Blackmon Can Play
If you’ve been wondering just where Blackmon has been since the Jaguars took him with their first pick of the draft, you wouldn’t be alone. However, he exploded to life in this game and showed the kind of yards-after-the-catch ability that he was known for as a prospect. He finished the game with 236 yards on seven receptions after topping 200 early in the fourth quarter, and notched 104 of those yards after the catch. What was most interesting was that he did his damage in exactly the same role as he has been in all season, working often inside and moving across the formation. His 13 targets came against seven different Houston defenders, with only Kareem Jackson being targeted more than twice.
This is the player the Jaguars thought they were drafting. He may never be the quickest, most explosive receiver in the game, but he is a big-bodied player with impressive strength and the ability to make yards after the catch. Can it continue?
If there was one player that stood up to be counted on the Jacksonville front it was defensive tackle C.J. Mosley (+3.3), who made plays throughout the game while the rest of the Jaguars struggle far more. Mosley earned himself a pair of sacks, and forced a fumble on one of them as he came right up the middle on Schaub. As the Texans’ signal-caller was trying to back away from the pressure, Mosley simply dived and swatted the ball out of his hand. He also notched another hit and made a pair of stops.
Though Russell Allen and Paul Posluszny both got into double digits for tackles, each had his fair share of negative plays. CB Derek Cox (+1.7) also managed to make 14 tackles in the game, and had a few great plays working primarily against Johnson. His interception in overtime was big, but perhaps his biggest play came to prevent a touchdown on the final third down of Houston’s opening drive in overtime. The Texans ran a back shoulder fade to Johnson but Cox was able to get a hand in and break it up to keep the game alive.
Watt a Task
LT Eugene Monroe has been one of the league’s best left tackles this season, but he was going to have no sterner test all game than keeping J.J. Watt quiet. To his credit, he had some impressive plays against Watt, and the two had a back and forth battle all day. What cost Monroe in the game to the tune of a -3.2 overall grade was when he was beaten it tended to be immediately. With 13:56 to go in the fourth quarter Watt was able to beat him quickly around the edge for the only sack he gave up, but he also allowed a pair of very quick pressures to OLBs Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin. His grade may not reflect his performance, but Monroe will look back at the tape and be relatively satisfied by how he controlled Watt — or at the very least reflect that it could certainly have been a whole lot worse.
Houston – Three Performances of Note
Andre Johnson is Still Dominant
There have been people who have suggested that Johnson is slipping from his once elite best, but this game is a statement to those people that he is still a real force. While Blackmon topped 230 yards receiving, Andre Johnson finished the game with 273, and it could have been more with a couple of big plays down the field going the other way. He was targeted 19 times and ended up with 14 receptions, but, unlike Blackmon who exploited half of the Houston defense, Johnson was matched up against Derek Cox more often than not. Thirteen of his targets were against Cox, and the rest came on in-breaking patterns against zones. Cox is an impressive player and did a good job against Johnson for the most part, and it is a testament to Johnson’s game that he racked up this kind of yardage against a player of Cox’s skill.
The bubble screen to win the game showed that Johnson still has the kind of explosive speed and skills to beat a defense any time they switch off.
The Other Texans D-Lineman
With the season Watt is having it’s easy to forget about Antonio Smith, but he has the ability to be a real problem for an offense. He is one of the better interior pass-rushers in the NFL on his day, and from 36 pass rushes in this game he notched a pair of hits, a pair of hurries, and a brace of batted passes to kill plays dead in their tracks. Smith’s problem has always been penalties, and he was flagged once for hitting Henne in the head late to extend a drive that should have ended. He was also fortunate to escape a second flag for a late hit on the quarterback that would have done the same thing. Smith can be an effective force, but he can also pop up with terrible penalties at the worst time. This game saw a little of both, but far more good from the Texan.
Failing to Cover
Despite the score the Houston defense didn’t play too badly in this game. However, when they had lapses they were made to pay for it by long touchdowns from the Jaguars. Jackson missed a tackle on a simple hitch route to Cecil Shorts that ended up going the distance for a touchdown, and the same thing happened later in the game when Danieal Manning went to hit but not wrap up on Blackmon. They also failed to stop the play-action pass down at the goal line when good work by Bradie James in the run game was undone by some exceptionally poor work keeping track of players releasing into routes on the play.
– Three Jaguars made it to double-digit solo tackles. No Texans did.
– Chad Henne went deep six times (20+ in the air), completing three of those passes for 183 yards and a touchdown.
– Arian Foster managed just 88 yards on 28 hard carries, while Justin Forsett had 59 yards from only seven attempts, forcing three missed tackles on those carries.
PFF Game Ball
There were a list of fantastic performances in this game, but none better than that by Andre Johnson, who earns himself a PFF game ball.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam