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What Went Wrong For The Texans In Their 24-21 Loss?

In their edging 24-21 loss, the Texans encountered significant hurdles in establishing a strong ground game during Sunday's close 24-21 defeat to the Jaguars, a stark contrast to their recent success in the preceding two weeks.

Texans Run Game Falters

Against the Jaguars, the Texans managed a mere 91 yards from 18 rushing attempts, marking a notable decline from their impressive 111 and 188-yard performances against the Cardinals and Bengals, respectively.

Quarterback C.J. Stroud notably emerged as the leading rusher for the Texans, achieving a career-high of 47 yards along with a touchdown from six carries. However, the running backs, Devin Singletary and Dameon Pierce, collectively mustered only 32 yards across 11 carries, averaging 2.9 yards per carry, and remained unable to secure a touchdown. Their struggle was notably against a determined Jacksonville defense that strategically fortified the box, hindering the Texans' ground offensive.

Texans' head coach, DeMeco Ryans, pinned the team's late-game hopes on Stroud's throwing prowess as their run game struggled. The offensive strategy culminated in 16 consecutive passing plays, emphasizing their shift away from the sputtering ground tactics. Acknowledging the challenges faced, Ryans highlighted the Jaguars' commendable job in narrowing space and swiftly closing running lanes. He credited their defensive line and linebackers for their adeptness. Expressing the team's focus on improvement, Ryans stressed the necessity of better targeting and enhanced execution in blocking to revitalize their running game for the upcoming week.

Notably, the most significant run from either running back was a 14-yarder by Singletary, signifying the overall difficulty in gaining ground on the field.

Looking forward, Ryans highlighted the primary challenge for the offensive line—to adopt a more physical mindset and ensure unwavering commitment on every snap. Despite Denver's reputation for a tough run defense, Ryans remained aware of the Broncos' statistical standing, ranking at the bottom in the NFL for rushing yards per game (155.2) and yards per play (5.40).

The emphasis remained on creating opportunities, with Ryans stressing the need to generate displacement and carve running lanes for their backs. He emphasized the significance of every yard gained, underlining the team's collective endeavor to maximize each opportunity on the field.

Tytus Howard Injured

In the closing moments of the first quarter, Tytus Howard encountered a left knee injury, prompting him to make a slow journey to the Blue Medical Tent. Subsequently, he was carted off to the locker room for further evaluation.

Stepping into Howard's position, rookie Juice Scruggs made his NFL debut, finding himself on the field after a considerable hiatus.

Reflecting on his return, Scruggs expressed mixed feelings, stating, "Being back out there was good, but the circumstances weren't ideal." Despite this, he highlighted his consistent preparation, always maintaining readiness as if he were a regular starter. "I stayed prepared throughout, knowing that whenever my opportunity arose, I'd be ready to step up," Scruggs added.

Scruggs became one of several offensive linemen grappling with significant injuries since the second week of training camp. His absence stretched back to the Texans' preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 27, where he suffered a hamstring injury. This setback prolonged his wait for a chance to make his mark on the NFL stage.

If Tytus Howard faces an extended absence due to this injury, it would constitute his second significant setback of the season. His earlier struggle came in August when he underwent hand surgery following a fracture to his right hand in the second week of training camp.

This initial injury sidelined Howard for the season's first four games. Notably, despite the setbacks, statistics from Pro Football Focus indicate an impressive record for Howard—having played 394 snaps at left guard without allowing a single sack. With such excellent pass protection, its evident that the absence of Howard on the offensive line is one that will be immediately felt.

Anmendola Misses Two Crucial Kicks From Range

Just weeks ago, Matt Ammendola was riding high on elation, having clinched victory for the Texans with a clutch 38-yard field goal against the Bengals during their away game. However, the mood drastically shifted after Sunday's 24-21 loss to Jacksonville. Ammendola found himself caught in a mix of surprise and disappointment, a stark contrast to the earlier jubilation.

In a critical moment, with the offense facing a challenging 4th-and-12 from the Jaguars' 39-yard line, Texans coach DeMeco Ryans opted to send out the field-goal unit. Despite Ammendola's relatively brief tenure with the team, Ryans displayed unwavering confidence in the kicker. This decision came even after Ammendola had missed a 50-yard attempt in the first half of the game, adding an element of uncertainty to the situation.

Ammendola's ambitious 58-yard field goal attempt met an unfortunate fate, striking the crossbar of the 10-foot-high goal post and rebounding backward.

With a mere 29 seconds remaining and no timeouts at their disposal, the Texans faced a time crunch. The Jaguars tactically ran down the clock, securing their hold on the top spot in the AFC South. This win granted them a two-game lead over Houston following a split in the regular-season series between the two teams.

Reflecting on the pivotal moment, Ammendola shared, "Honestly, I had full belief that the kick would find its mark." However, the attempt fell just short, leaving him to acknowledge the outcome for what it was. "It's one of those things. All I can do is refocus, put in the work, and move forward," he added resolutely.

Although Ammendola missed the two kicks that could have changed the course of the game, let's hope that he is able to dial back in for next weeks competition against the Broncos.


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