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Of all the things that went right for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017

Sat Dec 29, 2018 7:42 am

JACKSONVILLE Seantrel Henderson Color Rush Jersey , Fla. (AP) —, turnovers were at the top of the list.The Jaguars took care of the ball, especially in the postseason, and ranked second in the league with 33 takeaways. They finished the regular season at plus-10 in turnover margin, tied for fifth in the NFL.They’re nowhere close to that these days.The Jaguars (3-3) have been careless with the football through six games and have done considerably less to create fumbles and interceptions.The result: Jacksonville sits next to last in turnover margin, a minus-9 ratio that was a key part of consecutive blowout road losses to Kansas City and Dallas.Finding a way to end the trend Sunday against Houston (3-3) could be the difference between first place in the AFC South and a three-game losing streak.“We’re definitely not helping ourselves out by any means,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. “We are getting unlucky. Not only are we not helping ourselves, but we are also getting some bad bounces, and that is part of it.“We will start creating our own good fortune, and I think with that we will start getting some breaks and some bounces will go our way as well.”The Jaguars could use some better fortune, especially since they are without their top two left tackles, their top two tight ends, two of their top three running backs and their leading receiver from a year ago. The rash of injuries has hampered the offense so much that it failed to score in the first half of the past two games.And the usually stout defense has done little, if anything, to pick up the slack. The unit allowed a combined 802 yards, 63 points and 49 first downs against the Chiefs and Cowboys.“We haven’t lost our confidence,” defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “I think it’s a reality check. We understand who we are. We know who we are. I think a lot of us are leaning on the accolades.“We want to be Pro Bowlers. We have to be All-Pros. We want to be this, but we Imagehave to understand that we just have to play like we did last year, just stay carefree, and the less you care about your accolades off the field, the more we’ll win as a team.”The Texans have won three in a row in dramatic fashion. They won twice in overtime and beat Buffalo last week thanks to Johnathan Joseph’s interception return for a touchdown in the waning minutes.Houston hasn’t won four in a row since 2015.Beating Jacksonville could come down to how well Houston’s offensive line plays. The Texans allowed 14 sacks in two lopsided losses to the Jaguars last season and have allowed 25 in six games this season Ibraheim Campbell Color Rush Jersey , the second-most in the league.Quarterback Deshaun Watson played last week with a partially collapsed lung and a broken rib.“I’m fine now. I’m healthy,” he said. “I’m cleared to practice, cleared to do everything. I’m good.”Bortles should be wary, too. He has been sacked eight times in the past two games while playing behind an injury-riddled line. And now the Jaguars have to deal with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.Equally concerning are the team’s 14 turnovers and five takeaways.“It has not been what we wanted or what we expected or planned for,” Bortles said. “Everybody knows that. You learn from it, you put it in the past and you move on. You have to find a way to get back on track and get back to playing like we did against the Jets or against New England or late last year. That is all we are focusing on: getting back to playing the kind of football and the execution level that we know we can do.”Here are some other things to know about the Texans and Jaguars:BACK TO BASICSJaguars coach Doug Marrone focused on fundamentals in practice all week, with several players saying they essentially returned to training camp mode in Week 7. Some might consider it a desperation move, but Marrone defended his decision to go back to square one.“Anytime you see football being played as poorly as we have been playing, then it comes down to fundamentals,” he said. “That is my philosophy.”HAL RETURNSTexans safety Andre Hal, who is in remission after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, resumed practicing this week. He won’t play against the Jaguars, but gave the team an emotional lift this week. Hal was diagnosed with the disease in May and immediately began treatment.“I’m in the best shape of my life just from working out all the time, eating right, getting closer to God, getting closer to myself, finding out who I am, stuff like that,” Hal said. “I’m a better person.”PASSING LEAGUEWatson and Bortles have three games each with at least 375 yards passing this season. For the second week in a row, the New England Patriots found themselves in a highly competitive road game that was not decided until late in the fourth quarter. And for the second week in a row, the Patriots fell short: the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to hold onto their 17-10 lead and come away victoriously despite New England’s offense driving deep into the red zone on its final possession of the game.The end — failing to reach the end zone despite reaching the Pittsburgh 11-yard line — was a perfect example for what was yet another disappointing day for the Patriots Senio Kelemete Color Rush Jersey , especially on offense. The unit struggled to string positive plays together and made too many mistakes to win. “[We] just didn’t get the job done,” quarterback Tom Brady said during his press conference after the game. “We have to figure out a way to do better.”Brady, who ended the day with 25 completions on 36 pass attempts, 279 yards, and a touchdown as well as an interception, knows that the Patriots offense shares a big part of the blame today. “Obviously, we aren’t playing well enough to win,” he said. “It comes in a lot of different ways, turnovers, and just missed opportunities. That’s what it comes down to. Too many plays opportunities that we could do something with it, and we just don’t.”New England’s red zone defense is a perfect example for that: New England drove deep into Pittsburgh territory three times but came away with just three points. The other drives ended with an interception thrown by Brady and an incompletion on fourth down. “Our defense played great, special teams played great,” the quarterback said after the game. “But we have to do better offensively. Tough loss.”Patriots head coach Bill Belichick did not specifically mention his team’s offensive performance during his very own postgame press conference. However, he still pointed out some of the team’s issues. “They say penalties in the red area are pretty much the difference in a game, so we need to do a better job there,” Belichick said during his opening statement after the contest.“I was proud of our guys, how we battled all the way from the first play to the last,” New England’s head coach continued. “In the end, we just came up a little short. They made a few more plays than we did. [...] It’s one of those typical tough football games against the Steelers, and like I said, they did a little more than we did tonight. That’s pretty much the story the way I saw it.”The story also included the Steelers playing a very sound game against the Patriots Braxton Miller Color Rush Jersey , and being in control pretty much from the get-go. “Give the Steelers credit,” Belichick said about the current AFC North leaders and number one playoff seed in the conference. “They played well, did a good job. It’s a good football team. [...] They do a good job in every area, so everything is a challenge with them.”“We were playing against a great team; they made some great plays,” running back Sony Michel added. The first-round rookie also looked at his very own team — and like Belichick before him appeared to be happy with the squad’s overall performance and the fight it showed. “The guys on this team still fought hard,” Michel told reporters. “They still kept their head in the game and that’s what it’s all about.”Safety Duron Harmon, who registered two interceptions on the day, shared similarly positive takeaways. “We played solid football down the stretch when it mattered the most,” Harmon said. “Fourth quarter we did some things that went well. Just knowing it’s the group of guys that we have. Great guys, guys that put a lot into it and we obviously have to put more into it because for whatever reason, what we want to happen isn’t happening.”“We are in a tough spot obviously,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said after the defeat. “We put ourselves in a tough spot, but at the same time, we haven’t lost our belief in each other and we still have a lot to play for. There’s really no time for us to feel sorry for ourselves. We need to figure it out and keep competing and keep trying to improve.”Harmon sounds optimistic that the Patriots will be able to do just that over the next two weeks to build some much-needed momentum heading towards the playoffs. “I know the type of group that we have, we all come ready to work” the 27-year old said. “We are going to fix it, for sure. We are going to be better next week and when we get another opportunity to play on the road, we will be better and do everything we can to get a win.”

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