Brunell sharp in victory over Texans

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars didn't take expansion
Houston seriously the first time, and it cost them. The Jags were
prepared this time, yet they nearly blew it again.

Question on the Jaguars: Will the Jags stay in the AFC South race through December?
The Texans (2-8) are the only team that's out of the race in the AFC South. The Jags are 5-5, and the Colts and Titans are each 6-4. So the race could easily go down to the wire.

Question on the Texans: What will be Dom Capers' approach in the final six weeks?
He has an advantage in that he doesn't need to find a QB. David Carr has taken lots of hits, but he'll learn from his rookie year. Defensively, they've gotten better, and they can take pride in that. On the offense, losing OT Tony Boselli was a big blow. Capers needs to shore up the O-line next year to protect his QB better and get the running game going.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Mark Brunell saved Jacksonville from the embarrassment of losing
to the Texans twice in one season by throwing two touchdown passes
in the Jaguars' 24-21 victory Sunday.

"To a certain degree, we took them kind of lightly the first
time,'' running back Stacey Mack said of the Jaguars' 21-19 loss to
Houston in Jacksonville on Oct. 27. "We came into this game a lot
more aggressively.''

The attitude helped the Jags (5-5) take a 24-7 lead, but David Carr nearly led the Texans (2-8) to another win. He scored on
second-half runs of 2 and 14 yards -- the latter coming with 2:04

The Texans got one last chance, taking possession at their 18
with 1:32 to play, but Carr was sacked twice and threw an
incomplete pass to end it.

Brunell was relieved.

"You have a tendency to get on your heels a little bit after
getting a bit lead,'' Brunell said. "But you have to fight to
continue to be aggressive and maintain the attitude that got you
the 24 points.''

The Jaguars are the only expansion team to beat an opponent
twice in the same season since the league expanded in 1960.
Jacksonville, in its first season in 1995, beat Cleveland twice.

"We got to where we wanted to be. Now the season begins,'' said
Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin, whose team has won two straight after
losing four in a row. "It's a six-game schedule. We did get two
wins in a row, and I'm pleased with that. I'm very excited about
winning a tough game against a good football team.''

Jacksonville went ahead 17-7 at halftime, on a 1-yard run by
Stacey Mack, Brunell's 2-yard TD pass to tight end Kyle Brady and a
22-yard field goal by Tim Seder.

Houston's Jermaine Lewis fumbled a punt looking into the sun in
the third quarter, giving the Jaguars a first down at the Texans
27. Brunell put the Jaguars ahead by 17 with 12:35 left in the
third quarter when he ran to his right to escape the rush and hit
Jimmy Smith for a 13-yard score.

Carr completed 22 of 30 passes for 228 yards. He was sacked four
times for 34 yards in losses.

"Our team is frustrated, and they are upset,'' Texans coach Dom
Capers said. "Determination is the only thing that pulls you out
of these situations. You have to keep fighting.''

Jacksonville got the first break when Marlon McCree intercepted
Carr's pass and returned it to the Texans 2-yard line, where he was
tackled by Carr. Mack finally punched it in from a yard out on
fourth down.

Next, the Jaguars put together a 96-yard drive in the second
quarter, capped by Brunell's TD pass to Brady.

Brunell spiced the drive with two big plays. He scrambled to
avoid being tackled and hit Pete Mitchell for 45 yards, and then
threw a perfect strike to Bobby Shaw to the Texans 4-yard line.

Houston's only touchdown of the first half came when Carr hit
Bradford open on the outside for the 52-yarder.

The Jaguars got a 22-yard field goal by Seder with 2 seconds
left in the first half after the Texans almost sacked Brunell on
third down. Instead, Brunell shook off the rush and completed a
21-yard pass to Smith at the Houston 4-yard line.

Jacksonville missed another touchdown chance late in the second
quarter when safety Eric Brown intercepted Brunell's pass at the
Houston 1-yard line. But the Texans were forced to punt, and the
Jaguars got the field goal.

Game notes
The Jaguars have a 3-0 record in Houston. Their first
victory as an expansion team in 1995 was over the Oilers. ...
Jacksonville's Jimmy Smith leads all NFL receivers over the last
seven seasons in yards with 8, 713, including six catches for 70
yards against the Texans. ... Brunell was sacked five times, but
his scrambling kept the Jaguar's offense moving. ``There's still
some life in these legs,'' he said. ``I'm not that old yet.''


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