A Look Around The AFC South

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A Look Around The AFC South: 9.18.18

Colts.com offers a comprehensive look at the latest action around the AFC South Division, courtesy of the Associated Press and presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

091618_jax-ne-bortles-pass
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) throws a pass as he is pressured by New England Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers (98) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Houston Texans

The Houston Texans committed mistake after mistake in their loss to Tennessee.

Now they must figure out a way to fix these problems, so they don't fall into a 0-3 hole when they meet the New York Giants on Sunday.

"That's probably the biggest thing," coach Bill O'Brien said. "We have to eliminate those things. We have to coach it better, we've got to practice better. That's probably the biggest thing that we can need to improve on, that we have too many mistakes in all three phases."

Houston had 11 penalties for 88 yards in Sunday's 20-17 defeat against the Titans. There were false starts, a clipping penalty and Jadeveon Clowney, who was inactive with an elbow injury, incurred one from the sideline for taunting.

It's rather rare for a player not involved in the game to get a penalty. O'Brien said he didn't have many details on what happened, but that he wasn't surprised that the call was made.

"The taunting rule is a big emphasis ... that's a good crew," he said. "Pete Morelli does a good job. They saw it, they called it."

Clowney declined comment when asked about it in the locker room on Monday.

While the penalties were certainly a problem for Houston on Sunday, there were plenty of other issues that kept the team out of the win column. A big problem for Houston this season has been pass protection.

While their revamped offensive line has been so good in run blocking that the team leads the NFL in yards rushing, the group hasn't been nearly as successful in protecting Deshaun Watson.

Watson has been sacked seven times this season and hit or hurried numerous other times. O'Brien takes some of the blame for the trouble in pass protection and is working to find a solution.

"In the end, I have to call better plays in certain situations," he said. "Got to do a better job of getting them in the right situation to help them execute better ... I think I can help it with certain play calls moving forward."

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Final. #HOUvsTEN

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Eight months later and with much less on the line, the Jacksonville Jaguars found a way to close out Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

The significance of it might not be known for some time.

Not even the bold, brash Jaguars would acknowledge it was anything more than a Week 2 win. Others would disagree.

Blake Bortles threw four touchdown passes, three in the first half, and the Jaguars beat Brady and the Patriots 31-20 Sunday in a rematch of last season's AFC championship game.

The victory — Jacksonville's first in nine tries against Brady — could signal a new favorite in the AFC.

"Every week is about us," Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. "We feel like if we're at the top of our game, we can't be beat. They were our opponents, so that's what we prepared for."

Bortles threw for 377 yards in the best game of his five-year career.

He threw perfect TD passes to Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole and Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the first half, the second time Bortles has accomplished that feat. Bortles sealed the victory with a 61-yard pass to Dede Westbrook in the fourth quarter.

Westbrook took a short pass on a crossing route, made one defender miss and outran another down the sideline and into the end zone. Cole delivered the key block.

Cole finished with seven receptions for 116 yards and a score. He made a spectacular, one-handed catch on Jacksonville's second drive and beat Eric Rowe for a 24-yard touchdown three plays later. Rowe was benched.

Westbrook's catch-and-run put the Jaguars (2-0) ahead 31-13, allowing them to start celebrating their second victory in franchise history against New England (1-1) and first in the regular season. They hadn't beaten the Pats since January 1999.

"You have a bad day against a good team, it's a recipe for losing," Brady said. "And we certainly had a bad day."

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Hi haters.

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Tennessee Titans

A game ball for his first victory as an NFL coach is on Mike Vrabel's desk, and the Tennessee Titans got their first "Victory Monday" off of the season.

The celebration is a bit short-lived while some key starters are rehabbing injuries.

Yes, the Titans (1-1) found a way to beat Houston 20-17 for a much-needed split in their first two games after losing the longest game since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970. Now they prepare for a trip to Jacksonville on Sunday and an early AFC South showdown with the defending division champ Tennessee swept last season before hosting the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 30.

But Tennessee might be without starting quarterback Marcus Mariota for a second straight week, and only time will tell if any of the Titans' top three offensive tackles might be available Sunday against the Jaguars (2-0) as well. Mariota still is having numbness in his right, throwing hand from hurting his elbow in the season opener.

Mariota watched from the sideline, active and dressed. Vrabel said Mariota physically remains about where the quarterback was Friday or Saturday when the Titans decided to start backup Blaine Gabbert instead of Mariota.

Vrabel said right tackle Dennis Kelly, who has been filling in while starter Jack Conklin recovers from the left ACL torn in January, has been released from the hospital after dealing with an undisclosed illness. Vrabel said Conklin should do more at practice this week, while two-time Pro Bowl Taylor Lewan is progressing in the concussion protocol.

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