It was something that Houston Texans fans thought that they would never see. And the results were, in their eyes, savage.
Tom Savage, replacing an ineffective Brock Osweiler at quarterback, led the Texans from a 13-0 deficit to a big 21-20 win over Jacksonville to stay tied for the AFC South Division lead.
Savage, coming into the game midway in the second quarter, completed 23 of 36 passes for 260 yards while Nick Novak made field goals from 39, 45, 43 and 27 yards.
A couple of pass interference calls against Jacksonville helped the Texans to get the go-ahead score. A PI call at the Jaguar 2-yard line that set up the go ahead 1-yard touchdown run by Lamar Miller. Novak’s PAT put the Texans ahead to stay. The Jaguars’ tried to rally late, but Quintin Demps got an interception to end the drive and seal the win.
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The defining moment of this game was in the second quarter, when head coach Bill O’Brien decided to bench Osweiler after throwing two interceptions back-to-back in the first quarter. Savage entered the game with thunderous applause from the Texans fans in NRG Stadium, a welcomed move to fans who had to endure shoddy QB play from Osweiler all season long.
The second INT set up a Jags touchdown as Blake Bortles scored from a yard out on a quarterback keeper. That put Jacksonville up 13-0 and forced O’Brien’s hand in making a change.
Savage came in and made a big throw early in the game, hitting Wendell Williams for a big play to set up a first-and-goal deep in Jaguars territory. Jacksonville held by forcing a turnover on downs, but then after taking over on offense, a holding penalty in the end zone gave Houston a safety, making it 13-2.
Novak, who showed discomfort with his hip in the second half, hit three more field goals, set up by nice passes by Savage, who ran the offense with the confidence and knowledge that the Houston offense needs.
Jacksonville scored again on a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown by Marquise Lee after Novak’s second field goal to make it 20-8 in the third quarter. But after another decent drive led by Savage, Novak hit a 43-yarder to make it 20-11 heading into the fourth quarter.
After another Novak field goal to make it 20-14, the Texans got the ball on a short field to set up the game winning score. The Jaguars punted from their end zone and the Texans got it on their 48 on the game winning drive, capped by the Miller score.
With both Tennessee and Indianapolis winning on the road, the Texans’ win was huge in staying in control of its playoff destiny. Houston remains tied with the Titans at 8-6 for the division lead, while the Colts are a game back at 7-7.
Houston now faces Cincinnati in a Saturday night game on Christmas Eve in a big game that could seal the division title should the Titans lose to Jacksonville early that day. But if Tennessee wins, it will set up a do-or-die matchup in Week 17 in Tennessee, no matter what happens against the Bengals.
But the big question is who will be the starting quarterback against Cincy? O’Brien isn’t saying anything about it right now, but it will drive the conversation all week long.
But honestly, it will be Savage. Fans will revolt if they see Osweiler again.