Mandatory Credit: Photo by Phelan M Ebenhack/AP/Shutterstock (13452308v) Houston Texans defensive back Jalen Pitre (5) reacts to a play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Jacksonville, Fla Texans Jaguars Football, Jacksonville, United States – 09 Oct 2022
It was the defense’s best overall game of the season and their most complete.
The Houston Texans’ defense has been much maligned in the early going for various reasons. Porous run defense, inability to get stops on third down, late failures, and such. They will enter the bye week without hearing such negative commentary.
While the Texans did surrender 422 yards of total offense, they came up with big plays in crucial situations throughout the game, frustrating the Jaguars’ offense as they held them to only six points.
The Texans held the Jaguars to 6 for 14 on third down and 0 for 3 on fourth down. It was the fourth time in franchise history the Texans did not allow a fourth down conversion in a game where they faced a minimum of 3 chances. One of those fourth down stops came on a fourth and 1 run play, the kind of play that has been an automatic first down against Houston so far this season.
Houston kept Jacksonville out of the end zone on all three of their trips into the red zone and stuffed them on their only goal-to-go situation, courtesy of Derek Stingley Jr.’s first career interception.
The six points allowed by the Texans is the fewest they have allowed since defeating the Jaguars 26-3 in Jacksonville on November 3, 2019.
Houston’s two takeaways (Stingley’s INT in the end zone, King’s INT on Hail Mary on the final play) allowed the Texans to win the turnover battle 2-0. The two interceptions are the first time Houston has recorded multiple interception games in the first five weeks of the season since 2014.
Stingley had two passes defended in addition to his interception. Desmond King had three passes defended plus an interception. Jalen Pitre had nine tackles and nearly had a fumble recovery on a call that was ruled a fumble on the field but overturned by replay review. They had eight passes defended as a team on an afternoon where Trevor Lawrence did not face much pressure. The Texans’ pass rush, which was a factor for the first three weeks but not in Week 4, was nearly non-existent in Week 5 as they did not record a sack and had only one quarterback hit. However, the secondary made big plays, and the run defense shored itself up as the game progressed.
While the Jaguars ran for 136 yards in the game and averaged 5.2 yards per carry, it doesn’t tell the whole story. In the first quarter, Jacksonville ran at will. Travis Etienne had 2 carries for 48 yards on one drive, but that drive ultimately resulted in a punt. After the first quarter, Houston only allowed 61 total rush yards.
Jacksonville’s final seven drives of the game ended like this:
8 plays 55 yards Turnover on Downs
9 plays 51 yards Field Goal
9 plays 68 yards Interception
10 plays 53 yards Turnover on Downs
3 plays -5 yards Punt
9 plays 36 yards Turnover on Downs
7 plays 34 yards Interception
While the team still occupies the basement in the AFC South, seeing improvement from the team, especially its young players, is the ultimate goal.
The Texans have continued to show improvement on the defensive side, especially in key situations. Sunday, it manifested in a victory.