JACKSONVILLE (AP) — Chad Henne hooked up with Marcedes Lewis on a 1-yard touchdown strole, giving the Jacksonville Jaguars a 7-0 lead after the first quarter Thursday night.
The Jaguars took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards for a score, the team’s fourth opening-drive touchdown in its last five games.
Maurice Jones-Drew did most of the work, running five times for 25 yards. Henne completed 4 of 6 passes for 23 yards on the drive, the last one a quick fade pass to Lewis, who out-jumped 5-foot-10 cornerback Kareem Jackson in the corner of the end zone.
Houston punted on its first two possessions, creating more momentum for the home team.
The Jaguars (3-9) have won three of four games since their bye, a modest turnaround under first-year coach Gus Bradley after starting the season 0-8. One of the victories came against Houston, a 13-6 punt-fest 11 days ago.
The Texans (2-10) managed a season-low 218 yards in that one, prompting some players to apologies to the city. Receiver Andre Johnson called it the “lowest point” of his 11-year career.
Another loss to Jacksonville likely would increase the possibility of changes in Houston, which has lost a franchise-record 10 consecutive game. Coach Gary Kubiak, who suffered a mini-stroke last month but returned to coaching soon after, downplayed all the attention on his status.
“I’ve got too many other people to worry about and things to worry about,” Kubiak said. “I don’t worry about myself.”
The Jaguars have lost six in a row at home, a streak Bradley pointed out to players in meetings this week.
Jacksonville has won three in a row on the road, including the last two weeks, and was hoping to carry that momentum into EverBank Field for the prime-time game between two of the league’s worst teams.
Jacksonville’s last win at home came Nov. 25, 2012, against Tennessee.
“Can we stay true to the last couple of weeks how we got to this point?” Bradley said earlier in the week. “Our players felt like we had the recipe all year, but we saw the results. Let’s stick to the recipe and see if we can.”
The loser of the game, especially if it’s the Texans, would have the inside track to the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. If the Jaguars lose and finish the season with three wins, they likely would get the top pick based on weakness of schedule.
And with both teams looking to draft a quarterback, many have dubbed this the “Bridgewater Bowl.”
It could be a deciding game for who gets first shot at Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, widely considered the top quarterback available — if he enters the draft.