JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — — Fullback Andrew Beck fumbled a kickoff and then broke five tackles during an 85-yard return for a touchdown — one of several special teams gaffes by Jacksonville — and the Houston Texans stunned the Jaguars 37-17 Sunday to give coach DeMeco Ryans his first victory.
Rookie C.J. Stroud threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns, including a 68-yarder to Tank Dell that sealed it, and the Texans won their fifth in a row in Jacksonville.
Houston (1-2) now has won 16 of the past 19, including 10 of 11, in the series.
As lopsided as the AFC South rivalry has been recently, Jacksonville’s performance as 7 1/2-point favorites at home might have been even more staggering.
The Jaguars (1-2) were flat from the start and struggled to get anything going. Their first five drives ended in a missed field goal, a punt, a blocked field goal, a punt and a fumble.
Trailing 17-0 at halftime, they scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter to get back in the game. But then they botched the kickoff about as badly as anyone could imagine.
Beck bobbled the ball at the 10, picked it up at the 14 and managed to elude all 11 defenders on his way to one of the rarest touchdowns in NFL history. Caleb Johnson, Tre Herndon, Jacob Harris, Daniel Thomas, Brandon McManus and D’Ernest Johnson also had shots at tackling Beck. None of them got him to the ground.
Beck, a 255-pound blocker from nearby Tampa, became the first fullback to return a kickoff for a touchdown since Jacksonville’s Derrick Wimbush accomplished the feat in 2005. Wimbush returned one 91 yards for a score in a 24-17 victory at Arizona in Week 12.
It was the most memorable play in what could go down as a monumental game for the Texans.
Stroud proved he’s going to be a problem for Jacksonville — and the rest of the division — for years. Dell, a rookie from Houston who grew up in nearby Daytona Beach, burned the Jaguars for two long receptions and finished with five catches for 145 yards.
And No. 3 overall pick Will Anderson became the first Houston rookie to block a field goal since JJ Watt did so in 2011.
Jacksonville’s day was miserable and forgetful.
Trevor Lawrence threw for 279 yards, with a touchdown to Christian Kirk and an interception. Travis Etienne totaled 138 yards, including 88 rushing.
Calvin Ridley, though, dropped three passes — including two in the end zone — and was flagged twice for false starts. And Jacksonville’s defense allowed Houston to go 9 of 15 on third-down conversations.
The Texans played without three of five starters in their secondary, including cornerback Derek Stingley (hamstring) and safety Jalen Pitre (chest). It was supposed to be another setback for a franchise that has six offensive linemen on injured reserve and another, three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil, sidelined with a knee issue.
But safety Jimmie Ward (hip) made his season debut, which helped minimize the depth of Houston’s secondary shuffle.
Texans cornerback Shaquill Griffin, thrust into the starting lineup because of Stingley’s injury, returned to Jacksonville for the first time since the Jaguars released him in March and played well. He could be seen jawing with several of his former teammates throughout the game.
The Texans host the Steelers next Sunday.
The Jaguars travel to London for two games, the first a “home game” against Atlanta at Wembley Stadium.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl