Jaguars Trevor Lawrence embracing a return match with Houston

Jaguars Trevor Lawrence embracing a return match with Houston

Lawrence and the Jaguars have played at a high level

The two games — and the two games within those games — that Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence would like to have the most are likely the losses to the Houston Texans in Jacksonville on Oct. 9 and the Denver Broncos in London on Oct. 30 . .

They were part of the team’s October-Mess: five consecutive defeats, all by one score. And in the 13-6 loss to the Texans and the 21-17 loss to the Broncos, Lawrence threw critical tackles inside the opponent’s 10-yard line to negate what appeared to be certain scoring opportunities.

The difference is the Jaguars (7-8) won’t see Denver again this season. But they have a chance to atone for their earlier loss to Houston when they play the Texans (2-12-1) on Sunday at NRG Stadium (1 p.m., CBS).

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The Jaguars could also run their record to 8-8, which would be the first time since 2017 they could have a .500 record in December. They are also trying to snap a nine-game losing streak against the Texans.

Lawrence was 25 of 47 for 286 yards and two interceptions in the first round with the Texans. His first interception, by Derek Stingley Jr., came on a second-and-1 play from the Texans. 7.

It remains the only game this season in which the Jags haven’t scored a touchdown (Riley Patterson hit two field goals) and Lawrence has had just one other game without a pass or run.

His passer rating was just 54.0, lower than every game except the loss to Denver. And Lawrence was harder on himself than anyone else.

“It was a bad decision,” he said of Stingley’s interception. “…put us in a bad spot.”

The good news is that Lawrence and the Jaguars have turned their season back to November and December. The Jags are 5-2 since the loss to Denver, and Lawrence has the NFL’s best passer rating in that span (108.2), with 14 touchdown passes, two rushing TDs, just one interception and 1,909 yards.

Lawrence somewhat tortured himself this week by watching video of Houston’s loss, which made him more determined to make up for the embarrassment of being held out of the end zone at home against a team that hadn’t won a game before that week — and since then he has won only one.

“You look at the way we played the first game, especially watching the tape this week … some of those things are hard to watch,” Lawrence said Wednesday after the Jaguars practiced at The Episcopal School’s Knight Campus. “Intentionally and personally [I] I didn’t play as well as I could and we just left a lot. It’s good to watch … you learn a lot and you see the growth and where we are now, individually, where I am now, and offensively, the level we’re playing at. It’s where you want to be.”

Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said the numbers show Lawrence is taking better care of the ball and said the interception against Denver on first-and-goal was the breaking point for the second-year quarterback.

“There were turnovers in the first half of the season and he made some critical mistakes there,” Pederson said. “I think this particular game [against the Broncos] it was just the last drop. He said, ‘Okay, enough is enough. I have to play better.’ I think that’s how he approached it, which has been great to see from a young player, obviously the leader and the quarterback of your team, to be able to identify that, then obviously fix it and move on.”

Lawrence said he was glad Pederson has been adamant the Jaguars aren’t looking past the Texans game, which isn’t essential for them to win. The Jags only need to beat Tennessee at home on Jan. 8 to clinch the AFC South and a playoff spot, but Pederson said he doesn’t want to derail the team’s momentum.

“This is what we expected,” Lawrence said. “That’s what we want. You’ve got to finish strong, and that’s the main message, and that’s two divisional games left.”

Lawrence is 0-3 against the Texans, the only AFC South team it hasn’t beaten as a starter.

“I never beat Texas,” he said. “For me, it’s a game I definitely want to win. Our whole team feels that way. It’s another opportunity to show who we are, to do our best going forward, to play another complete game, to maintained this momentum that we have. If you go out there and lay an egg, nobody’s feeling good about that, especially going into the final week.”

Lawrence didn’t want to take anything for granted, despite Houston’s defense being ranked 30th in the NFL. The Texans have given up 24 or fewer points eight times and ended a nine-game losing streak by beating the Titans 19-14 last week.

“These guys, they play really hard,” he said of the Texans. “They’re a very good team, very good defense. They’re not giving up a lot of points. They’re really good in the red zone. Obviously, we didn’t score a lot on them when we were here in October, so that’s a challenge for us. We’re excited.”

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