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Hot Jacksonville Jaguars beat reeling Houston Texans

It was a fitting end to the Houston Texans' comeback hopes and a microcosm of the entire nightmare season.

After leading a pair of second-half scoring drives in relief of Case Keenum, an embattled Matt Schaub tossed an interception with just over two minutes remaining to seal the Texans' fate in a 27-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on "Thursday Night Football."

Perhaps the most talented team ever to suffer through an 11-game losing streak, the Texans have now dropped seven consecutive games by seven points or fewer.

Sleepwalking through an uninspired first half, the undisciplined Texans outgained the Jaguars by 125 yards, ran 19 more plays and won the time of possession battle by more than 10 minutes.

A blatant mess in all three phases of the game, the Texans discovered a new way to lose under coach Gary Kubiak. Their 177 yards in penalties were more than Jacksonville managed in passing or rushing yards.

Regardless of Kubiak's quarterback decision for next week and beyond, Texans fans can thank Schaub for his parting gift of a dream draft pick.

While the more intense and better-prepared Jags were winning for the fourth time in five weeks, Texans fans had one eye peeled on the Thursday night theatrics of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Here's what else we learned in Thursday's game:

  1. Minutes after clearing the 100-yard rushing marker for the first time since Week 3 of last season, Maurice Jones-Drew went down with a hamstring injury. The contract-year running back told Rich Eisen on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access Postgame" that he wants to stay in Jacksonville and that his agent and general manager David Caldwell will get together in the offseason and "get it done." Caldwell acknowledged last week it's a "realistic possibility" Jones-Drew will return in 2014.
  1. The book is out on Keenum -- he can't handle the blitz. Kubiak praised Schaub after the game, calling him an "unbelievable pro" and suggested the veteran might remain the starter for the rest of this lost season.
  1. If there was sentiment in some corners of Texans management for a Kubiak return in 2014, this performance likely erased it. A blatant mess in an ugly first half, the Texans were embarrassed on national television. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley had his team ready to play with a solid game plan; Kubiak's troops looked lost.
  1. I might need to adjust my latest cornerback rankings. Cecil Shorts abused two-time Pro Bowl corner Johnathan Joseph until the Jaguars stopped passing. Joseph was flagged twice for pass interference, which put him behind bone-headed safety D.J. Swearinger for the club lead in killer penalties.
  1. We suspect Texans general manager Rick Smith's job is safe, but he's getting little from his 2013 draft class beyond first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins. Second-rounder Swearinger had a nightmare game Thursday. Third-round linebacker Sam Montgomery was waived for violating team rules. Third-round offensive tackle Brennan Williams, fourth-round linebacker Trevardo Williams and fifth-round guard David Quessenberry have all spent the season on injured reserve.
  1. Andre Johnson saw a whopping 21 targets, which is no surprise considering the Texans called 32 consecutive pass-plays across the third and fourth quarters. Johnson's 21 career games of 10-plus catches are the most in NFL history. He's also tied with Hall of Famer Don Maynard for the fifth-most 100-yard receiving games. He's yet to lose a step in his age-32 season.
  1. Rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien has been the brightest star on a Jaguars defense that has turned up the heat since the Week 9 bye. A coverage liability early this season, Cyprien appears to be playing at a faster pace now that he's comfortable in Bradley's defense. His closing speed has been especially impressive.
  1. By winning four of five games, Chad Henne just added another half-decade to his career on the journeyman quarterback circuit. A free agent next offseason, Henne will be "mentoring" a rookie QB elsewhere if the Jaguars don't ask him back.
  1. Thanks to trick plays the past two weeks, Jones-Drew and rookie receiver Ace Sanders now have as many touchdown passes as Blaine Gabbert this season. It's nice to see offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch emptying the playbook after an 0-8 first half.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" debates the Seahawks' Super Bowl chances and asks "Who do you trust?" as the playoffs approach.

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