HOUSTON — Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars tried not to make too much of their win over the Houston Texans with plenty of football left this season.
However, they couldn’t deny that Sunday’s 24-21 victory was important.
“For us to be able to continue to control our own destiny, it’s up to us and how we play,” Lawrence said. “If we keep winning, we don’t have anything to worry about. We’re going to find ourselves in a good spot. In that sense, it’s a huge game.”
Lawrence threw for 364 yards and a touchdown, and the AFC South-leading Jaguars escaped with the victory over their division rival when Matt Ammendola’s 58-yard field goal attempt bounced off the crossbar with 34 seconds left.
The Jaguars (8-3) avenged their 37-17 home loss to Houston (6-5) in Week 3 and created some separation at the top of the division. They also improved to 6-0 away from home, including two wins in London.
“Our guys are learning how finish,” Jacksonville Coach Doug Pederson said. “I’m really proud of our guys for the way they hung in there today.”
C.J. Stroud, the second overall pick in the draft, threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns as Houston’s three-game winning streak was snapped. He has 3,268 yards passing this season to move past Justin Herbert (3,224) for most in NFL history by a rookie in his first 11 games.
He also became the first rookie in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in four consecutive games.
“We’ve got to be cleaner and execute better,” Stroud said.
The Texans led by one after a touchdown run by Stroud midway through the third quarter. Lawrence responded by throwing a 1-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley and hitting Ridley for the two-point conversion to make it 21-14.
Brandon McManus tacked on a field goal early in the fourth quarter to pad the lead, and Jacksonville’s defense stopped Houston on fourth down.
But McManus missed from 55 yards with seven minutes left. Stroud then orchestrated a 55-yard drive, capped by a 17-yard touchdown reception by Nico Collins, to cut the lead to 24-21 with just over five minutes to go.
The Texans got a stop but couldn’t move the ball and settled for the long field goal attempt on fourth-and-12 instead of giving Stroud and the offense one more shot.
“I felt like that was the right decision for us to kick the ball,” Coach DeMeco Ryans said. “I thought he had good range from there, just didn’t make the kick.”
Derek Stingley Jr. intercepted Lawrence near midfield early in the second half. It was the second consecutive game with an interception for the third overall pick in the 2022 draft.
The Texans had third-and-goal at the 1 on the ensuing drive. Stroud faked a handoff to fullback Andrew Beck and dashed to the right before high-stepping his way into the end zone to put Houston on top 14-13.
Jacksonville retook the lead on its next drive, aided by two pass-interference penalties on cornerback Tavierre Thomas. The first one gave the Jaguars a first down at the 8 and the second gave them a new set of downs at the 1.
McManus added a 53-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to make it 24-14.
“It was a real easy decision — I was going for it the whole way,” Pederson said. “You make a play like that, and you have them back on the ropes.”