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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars had the lead, the momentum and the ball coming out of halftime Sunday.
They squandered all of it.
Jacksonville had a second half to forget in a 27-13 loss to Houston, a common theme in the franchise's fourth straight losing season.
"I don't know what happened in the second half," said receiver Cecil Shorts III, whose head-scratching drop contributed to the team's woes. "I know we didn't play well enough to win. We've got to figure out a way to get better in the second half."
Jacksonville's lowlights included:
— Being outscored 17-0 in the second half.
— Gaining 73 yards in the second half, including just 4 in the third quarter.
— Holding the ball for 9-plus minutes after the break.
— Allowing 180 yards in the final 30 minutes.
"I can't pinpoint a reason right now," left tackle Luke Joeckel said. "It needs to get fixed."
It's been a problem all season, really.
The Jaguars (2-11) have been outscored 79-32 in the third quarter. They've been even worse in the second period, which is when teams start making in-game adjustments.
Jacksonville's youth and inexperience are surely part of the issue, but the Jaguars aren't making excuses, especially a week after they dominated the New York Giants in the second half.
"There are some things that we wanted to go out there and do, and adjustments we wanted to make, but we couldn't in that third quarter," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "So once again, we put ourselves behind the 8-ball going into the fourth quarter. Now we're playing catch-up where we have to pass the ball, and then they're teeing off on us. It's tough in this league when you put yourself in that position."
Even tougher when J.J. Watt is on the other side of the ball.
Watt created major problems, finishing with three sacks and five quarterback hits. The Jaguars lost starting right tackle Austin Pasztor last week and went with unproven veteran Sam Young. Not surprisingly, Watt dominated the matchup. He was most disruptive once the Texans took a double-digit lead.
Bortles completed 20 of 29 passes for 205 yards, with a touchdown to Allen Hurns and the costly interception. Denard Robinson ran 10 times for 30 yards.
Lewis was one of the few bright spots, catching three passes for 69 yards — his best performance since Week 2.
"Young or not, we're in the NFL," Lewis said. "At some point, you have to put it behind you and take a step forward in the right direction. ... For one reason or another, we keep ending up behind the 8-ball. It sounds like a broken record."
The Jaguars led 13-10 at halftime and had done so much right.
But everything went wrong from there, and the franchise lost for the 37th time in its last 45 games. Of those, 27 have been by double digits.
Houston's Arian Foster ran for 127 yards and a touchdown, a 1-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter was the play of the game.
After quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick got stuffed on third down, the Texans lined up for a field goal before calling time out and opting to go for it. Foster emphatically told coach Bill O'Brien he wanted the ball.
Foster initially looked he would be stopped for a loss, but he eluded a tackle, headed in the other turned the other way and high-stepped into the end zone.
"I was just screaming for him to give me the ball," Foster said. "We took a step in the right direction."
The Jaguars headed the other way.
"We need to find a way to get better in the second half," Shorts said. "I'm not sure what happened, but we've got to figure out a way to get things going. We can't have one good half and one bad half. We have to play a full game together."
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