Taylor, defense huge in Texans seasoning opening win over Jaguars

By Tyler Tyre, Times Sports Editor
Posted 9/12/21

“We’ve always preached about getting turnovers and we were able to get three tonight,” Culley said. Then offensively we took care of the football. That’s our formula, as long as we are following that formula things are going to be alright and we were able to do that.”

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Taylor, defense huge in Texans seasoning opening win over Jaguars

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The Houston Texans felt like they had something to prove going into their season opener.

With a new coach, new quarterback and only three returning starters on offense the new look Texans wanted to come out and make a statement.

“The only noise that matters to us is the noise that’s inside this building,” said Texans head coach David Culley. “That’s the only noise that matters, we knew what we could do.”

Houston made that statement, as the Texans put up 27 points in the first half and easily handled the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 37-21 win to kick off the season on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

“This is what we expected, we’re not surprised simply because we played good football,” Culley said. “I thought we lost a bit of our composure at the end with some penalties, but this football team expected to win. We knew if we did the things we had been practicing and played winning football that we would have the chance to win this game and that’s exactly what we did.”

Both teams went three-and-out to on their first possessions in a nervy start, but the Texans got it together after that.

Houston came back with a 14 play, 84-yard drive, where they had four third down conversions that culminated in a 2-yard touchdown run by Mark Ingram to take a 7-0 lead.

The drive looked dead in the water as the Texans faced a third-and-9 from the Jacksonville 42, but Tyrod Taylor threw a beautiful ball under pressure and Brandin Cooks came down with it at the 2-yard-line.

Taylor continued to settle in and threw his first touchdown pass as a Texan on the next drive, finishing off a five play drive with a seven-yard pass to David Johnson.

Jacksonville got on the board on its first drive of the second half as Trevor Lawrence threw his first NFL touchdown to Chris Manhertz on a 22-yard pass.

Houston’s defense had two interceptions in the first half, by Justin Reid and Vernon Hargreaves III, leading to six points on two field goals from Joey Slye.

Jacksonville got the ball back with a chance to run a two-minute drill, but left Houston time on the clock after three incompletions and Taylor and Cooks again made them pay, connecting on a 52-yard pass to set up an eight-yard touchdown from Taylor to Danny Amendola.

“It was huge to get that extra score before the half because anytime you can get points before the half you get a bit of a momentum swing,” Cooks said. “I think that it was huge for us to be able to do that and keep putting points on the board.”

Houston kept things going in the third quarter as Phillip Lindsay ran in a five touchdown before Lawrence answered with a 41-yard bomb to DJ Chark Jr. for a touchdown. Houston tacked on a field goal and an interception from Christian Kirksey in the fourth quarter to seal the game and give Culley his first win as a head coach.

The three interceptions equaled the Texans entire total from last season and the team continued a theme it has preached all offseason and preseason with stopping the run and forcing turnovers as the Jaguars only had 76 yards on the ground. The Texans also had one sack on the game from Whitney Mercilus and Kirksey had two tackles for loss.

“We’ve always preached about getting turnovers and we were able to get three tonight,” Culley said. Then offensively we took care of the football. That’s our formula, as long as we are following that formula things are going to be alright.”

Offensively, Taylor finished with 291 yards passing on 21 of 33 attempts while also rushing for 41 yards. Ingram was the workhorse back as he carries the ball 26 times for 85 yards and Cooks had 132 yards receiving on five catches.

Houston will travel to Cleveland next week to take on the Browns as Taylor will face off against one of his former teams.

“We did a really good job this week,” Taylor said. “We are definitely going to have to keep running the ball well and we did ok on third downs and we are going to have to convert on those two. Running the ball is definitely something we are going to have to establish every week. Just the physicality of that and with our defense it helps set the tone early.”

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