After returning quickly from a rib injury (video) in the first quarter, Blaine Gabbert appeared poised to be a comeback hero as the Jags were keeping close to the division leading Houston Texans (5-3). Unfortunately, the ailing rookie struggled through the second half, leading to a 24-14 Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) loss.
After a surprising sack and fumble recovery -- a play that featured not one, but two laterals! -- the Jacksonville Jaguars defense appeared poised for another amazing upset, leading the Jags to a 7-7 tie at halftime. But, looking at Advanced NFL Stats' win probability charts, we see the second half was mostly about the Texans:
In short, the loss comes heavily from this:
|vs HOU / 10.30.11||Passing||Rushing|
A 30% completion rate with 2 interceptions (not noted above) largely spelled doom for the Jags.
The second half began with the Jags offense punting away their first possession only to have Jacoby Jones return it 33 yards, setting up a methodical Texans drive, a 7-yard Matt Schaub touchdown pass, and a 14-7 Texans lead.
The Jags D stiffened, though, forcing the Texans into two-straight 3-and-outs. Unfortunately, Blaine Gabbert started the fourth quarter with his second interception, this one to Jason Allen, giving the Texans the ball on their own 40 yard line. Within just a scant five plays, Houston had driven the remainder of the field and pushed their lead to 21-7.
With still a faint chance at a comeback, the Jags added a second touchdown late in the fourth quarter when a Ben Tate fumble gave them great field position, reducing their deficit to 21-14. However, the ensuing Texans drive -- which spanned 59 yards, took almost 5 minutes off the clock, and ended with a 39-yard Neil Rackers field goal -- ensured the Texans' 24-14 win.
Though the season is still near its halfway point and few games at this stage can truly end a season, this game may well have spelled doom for Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio. In his defense, he is starting a rookie quarterback -- and his sudden cutting of David Garrard has appeared in hindsight quite shrewd, as Garrard has since undergone surgery.
However, the impressive showing from the Jags defense can hardly undo the deflating 2-6 start to the season. If the Jaguars do the unlikely and win out, they would finish at a respectable 10-6 -- possibly good enough for a Wild Card spot -- but after losing to the Texans on Sunday, their chances of winning the AFC South have dwindled fast.