They did not do much through the air, passing for less than 100 yards. They were outgained 327-273. They lost the time of possession battle. They missed two field goals. But once again, the Texans won a football game, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-21 for their first road win of the season.
The Texans are now 6-3 and still leading the AFC South. They did it with a running game that averaged 5.5 yards per carry. With a defense that finally turned the field with a 42-yard Kareem Jackson pick six to start the scoring. With a big special teams play, a 57-yard punt return from Tyler Ervin to set up another score.
Most importantly, they won the turnover battle 2-0. Brock Osweiler did not throw an interception for the first time this season. He had a very shaky game — especially in the second half — but he did not turn it over.
And that’s the formula the Texans want. Play really good defense, force some turnovers, run the football, don’t turn it over.
It’s not the sexiest football, but it is working.
The team on the other side is a good example of the opposite. You have to feel for the Jags. They have talent. Blake Bortles makes some amazing throws. He also makes some critical errors. He threw the pick six on the first drive, on a terrific play by Jackson, who was also burned several times. Bortles also had some bad luck; a ball he was trying to throw away hit his receiver’s foot and bounced in the air for a fumble, recovered by Whitney Mercilus. Bortles puts up sexy numbers, but his team finds ways to just play well enough to lose close.
As for the Texans, they are winning the close ones, and they got a much-needed road win, one that did not come easy. They were missing Will Fuller and Jalen Strong, which limited what they could do in the passing game. Defensively they were missing Vince Wilfork and A.J. Bouye, who has been their best player in the secondary this year.
Despite that, they are now 6-3, and face another tough test next Monday night against the surging Raiders in Mexico City. At some point, they will need to get more from Osweiler. He was 14 of 27 for just 99 yards. He had the two TDs and no turnovers. He was sacked just once and added another 23 yards on three rushes. With the lead, the Texans focused on the running game and did not ask him to do much. And he didn’t. They went ultra-conservative with the play calls, something they have done all year. It has worked when they have a lead. Not so much when they get behind.
At some point, Osweiler will need to do more. But what he did Sunday was good enough, and mirrored the rest of the team. Not very sexy. Nothing special. But no critical mistakes.
And that led to the most important stat: The final score. That looks just fine.