JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — No matter how many fans show up, the Jacksonville Jaguars continue finding ways to win at home.
David Garrard threw two touchdown passes, Josh Scobee kicked three field goals and the Jaguars stayed in the AFC wild-card hunt with a 23-18 victory over injury-depleted Houston on Sunday.
It was Jacksonville's fifth straight victory at home and came in front of an announced crowd of 42,079 – the lowest in franchise history.
Garrard threw for 238 yards, completing passes to nine different receivers, and enjoyed his first turnover-free game in a month. He had four fumbles and an interception the past three weeks. Two of his four turnover-free games this season have come against the Texans (5-7), who have lost four in a row and appear out of the playoffs for the eighth time in as many years.
The Jaguars (7-5) rebounded from last week's 20-3 loss at San Francisco and remained in position for a wild-card berth.
Jacksonville nearly gave this one away after building a 17-0 lead. The Texans made it close on Matt Schaub's 1-yard TD pass to Andre Johnson with 4:01 remaining, but they also made too many mistakes down the stretch to snap their losing streak.
Maurice Jones-Drew and Garrard slipped in the painted end zone in the third quarter, leading to a safety, but the Texans squandered good field position on the ensuing drive. Rookie Mike Thomas fumbled a punt deep in Jacksonville territory, but Houston could only muster a field goal to cut the lead to 23-12.
Schaub hooked up with Johnson for a 53-yard gain in the fourth quarter, then Houston oddly called a halfback pass on first-and-goal at the 5. Chris Brown – who had a costly fumble late in the first meeting – started right and under pressure by Tyron Brackenridge floated a pass that Gerald Alexander intercepted near the goal line.
It was Jacksonville's third interception of the game – against three different passers.
Schaub injured his left shoulder on Houston's first play. After getting sacked by Derrick Harvey, Schaub stayed on the ground a few minutes before heading to the locker room for tests.
He returned late in the second quarter, with the Texans trailing 17-0.
Rex Grossman replaced Schaub and threw an interception on his second attempt. The pick gave the Jaguars great field position, but the Texans stopped Jones-Drew on four straight runs, including a goal-line stand on fourth down.
It was one of the few times Houston stopped Jacksonville in the first half.
The Jaguars scored 17 points in the second quarter. Garrard hit Nate Hughes for a 35-yard touchdown, then connected with Ernest Wilford for a 4-yard score.
It was a big moment for Hughes, who dropped two TD passes in Week 2 and was waived the following day. Wilford's TD was one of several big plays by tight ends. Marcedes Lewis hauled in a 47-yard pass on the opening drive that set up Scobee's 51-yard field goal, and Zach Miller's 62-yard reception set up Wilford's score.