Osweiler benched, Bradley fired, Texans beat Jags 21-20

December 18, 2016 GMT
Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage (3) passes against the Jacksonville Jaguars after starter Brock Osweiler was pulled during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage (3) passes against the Jacksonville Jaguars after starter Brock Osweiler was pulled during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans maintained control of the AFC South and gained a quarterback controversy with a win over Jacksonville on Sunday.

The Jaguars lost their coach.

Tom Savage threw for 260 yards after Brock Osweiler was benched in the second quarter, and Lamar Miller scored Houston’s only touchdown with less than three minutes remaining as the Texans rallied for the 21-20 victory . The defeat cost Gus Bradley his job in Jacksonville.

Houston coach Bill O’Brien wouldn’t say who would start next week.

“We’re always going to make decisions in the best interest of the team,” O’Brien said. “We’ll regroup here tonight. We’ve got a short week and we’ll make decisions on anybody, any starter that we have. We make decisions on that every week.”

The Jaguars fired Bradley after Jacksonville’s ninth straight loss. He went 14-48 since taking over in 2013.

“It is unfortunately evident that we must make a change,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan said in a statement . “I thought it would be best to do it immediately after today’s result so Gus can step away, relax and regroup with his family during the Christmas and holiday season.”

The win was Houston’s 10th straight in the division and left the Texans (8-6) tied with Tennessee for the AFC South lead. But Houston controls its playoff future with a 5-0 mark in the division.

Osweiler threw interceptions on consecutive drives in the second quarter to help Jacksonville build a 13-0 lead. O’Brien had insisted all season he hadn’t thought about benching Osweiler, but he’d seen enough after that and brought in Savage . The move was met with a huge ovation from the home crowd that had been booing Osweiler for most of the day.

Houston trailed by nine entering the fourth quarter and Nick Novak made his fourth field goal before Miller bulled in for the go-ahead touchdown. The Jaguars were flagged for pass interference twice on that drive to set up the score.

The Jaguars (2-12) got the ball back twice, but they failed on a fourth-down conversion the first time and Blake Bortles was intercepted the second time.

Bortles addressed his level of frustration.

“I think it’s about as high as it can get,” he said. “I don’t know, really, for anybody in this locker room how much more frustrated you can be. We had all the opportunities in the world, chances in the fourth quarter to score, and we just don’t do it.”

Osweiler has struggled in his first season in Houston after signing a $72 million contract to join the Texans from Denver. He has 16 interceptions and 14 touchdown passes. Osweiler was 6 for 11 for 48 yards before he was pulled.

“We don’t make decisions on how much a guy gets paid,” O’Brien said. “We make decisions on what’s the best way to win a game. That was the decision we made today and I thought today, it worked out OK.”

It was the first regular-season appearance since Dec. 14, 2014 for Savage, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury.

The Texans cut the lead to five with a field goal in the third quarter. The Jaguars quickly padded it when Marqise Lee returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to make it 20-8.

Another field goal for Houston cut the lead to 20-11 late in the third quarter.

Earlier, a high pass by Osweiler was deflected by Will Fuller, intercepted by Jalen Ramsey and returned 35 yards. Jacksonville’s offense couldn’t move Jason Myers made a 50-yard field goal for a 6-0 lead in the second quarter.

Osweiler was picked off again on the next drive and Jacksonville cashed in when Bortles ran for a 1-yard touchdown to push the lead to 13-0.

“You’re disappointed because you feel like you let them down, but then at the same time you’re happy because this football team found a way to win,” Osweiler said.

The Texans first points came late in the first half when Jacksonville was called for holding in the end zone on a punt, giving Houston a safety to make it 13-2.

Houston’s Nick Novak added a field goal for a 13-5 halftime score.


Houston star defensive end J.J. Watt was on the sideline Sunday for the first time since having season-ending back surgery in September. Last year’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year cheered and clapped throughout the game after getting a round of applause when he was shown on the Jumbotron just before it started.


Houston’s defense was led by Jadeveon Clowney , who had a sack, three tackles for losses and two quarterback hits. The top overall pick in the 2014 draft has a career-high five sacks this season.

“I heard him say in an interview after practice one of the days this week: ‘I’m a good football player,’” O’Brien said. “And you know what? He’s (darn) right about that.”


Jaguars: Host Tennessee on Saturday.

Texans: Host Cincinnati on Saturday night.


For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL.