Watson plays through injury, Texans beat reeling Jags 20-7
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Deshaun Watson made the 800-mile trip to Jacksonville on a private bus.
He slept, studied film, played games and watched television — all because the Houston Texans were concerned about how air pressure from flying would affect his bruised lung and injured ribs.
Given how little Watson got hit Sunday, he might join teammates for the flight back.
Watson threw a touchdown pass, Lamar Miller ran for 100 yards and a score and the Texans beat the reeling Jaguars 20-7 on Sunday for their fourth consecutive victory.
“Whatever it took to get me down here with my teammates and be able to play and help this team win,” Watson said. “This is bigger than me. I’m a competitor. I love this team so much. And what I’ve been through previously and what we’ve been through leading up to this point, I want to be out there on the field with them and try to win.”
Watson said he’s feeling a lot more comfortable and “starting to be able to do what I do again.”
The Texans (4-3) didn’t need him to do much against the mistake-prone Jaguars (3-4), who turned the ball over three times, benched quarterback Blake Bortles, lost their third straight game and imploded in the locker room afterward.
Watson completed 12 of 24 passes for 139 yards, including a 10-yard TD pass to DeAndre Hopkins in the third quarter that put Houston up 20-0. He was sacked once — an improvement for one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines — and knocked down just a few more times.
It was just what he needed before a short turnaround that includes a home game against Miami on Thursday night
“I give credit to Deshaun because I think he is a very tough individual,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “He has sacrificed a lot over the last couple of weeks to put himself in a position to play. Great teammate. Loves to win. Loves to play. And I think the world of the guy.”
The Jaguars couldn’t be as complimentary of Bortles, who was benched in the third quarter after his second fumble. Bortles coughed up the ball on Jacksonville’s third play of each half, leading to 10 points for the Texans.
Cody Kessler replaced Bortles and threw a touchdown pass, but he also fumbled and threw an interception off T.J. Yeldon’s hands.
Coach Doug Marrone said afterward that the quarterback job is up for grabs.
“We’ve got to do something, but the first thing we’ve got to do is stop turning the damn ball over. Period,” Marrone said.
The Jaguars signed Bortles to a three-year, $54 million contract in February with the belief he was good enough to lead the defensive-minded team back to the playoffs. Bortles has been downright awful in three straight losses, with two touchdown passes and eight turnovers.
“It’s obviously not what you want to hear as a quarterback,” Bortles said. “Those aren’t the words you want the head coach to say to you.”
Marrone also benched Bortles in the 2017 preseason, only to give him the starting job back nine days later.
Bortles lost the ball both times trying to scramble. The first one led to a field goal, and Watson connected with Hopkins following the second one . That was one of several one-on-one matchups Hopkins won against talkative cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Hopkins’ best was a one-handed catch for 31 yards along the sideline in the first quarter.
“That catch at the beginning of the game really got us going,” O’Brien said. “He made some big plays for us. That’s Hop.”
SHUT OUT AGAIN
The Jaguars failed to score in the first half for the third straight week, the first time they’ve done that in franchise history. They have been outscored 57-0 in the opening two quarters in losses to Kansas City, Dallas and Houston.
Texans safety Andre Hal, who returned to practice this week following treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was in the starting lineup. Hal was diagnosed with the disease in May and immediately began treatment. He received the news of his remission last month. The game was emotional because his father, Andre Hal Sr., died Tuesday, a few days suffering a heart attack.
“This was good for my dad,” Hal said. “He wanted me back on the field and I know he was watching me there today. ... People didn’t really think I’d come back, but I knew I would come back. It was cool seeing everyone kind of show some love to me.”
Texans: WR Keke Coutee left in the second quarter with a hamstring injury and was ruled out at halftime.
Jaguars: CB Tyler Patmon was ruled out in the second quarter because of a strained neck, forcing rookie safety Ronnie Harrison into a bigger role. ... Backup linebacker Donald Payne injured in his left knee on a special teams play. ... DE Calais Campbell left the game in the fourth with a stinger.
Texans: Return home to host Miami on Thursday night.
Jaguars: Face Philadelphia in a “home game” at Wembley Stadium in London.