JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Houston Texans added a new wrinkle to their season-long woes.
Plagued by turnovers and red-zone struggles, Houston was flagged 14 times for a franchise-record 177 yards in a 27-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.
“They were huge penalties,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “That's on me. It's ridiculous. It's inexcusable. It can't happen.”
And all those flags surely helped the Texans blow another winnable game.
There was Shiloh Keo's 33-yard, pass-interference penalty in the second quarter that set up Chad Henne's touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts III. There was rookie D.J. Swearinger's taunting penalty a few minutes later, a flag that turned a would-be punt into an automatic first down. Swearinger also was called for a 15-yard face mask in the third. And Kareem Jackson's 35-yard, pass-interference penalty in the fourth helped Jacksonville flip the field in a crucial situation.
“Lots of our penalties came on third-down plays, and that let them stay out on the field,” Texans defensive end Antonio Smith said. “That was really frustrating. I don't understand some of the calls, though. I saw their guys doing the same thing, but all of the calls came against us. Why?”
Houston (2-11) extended its franchise-record losing streak to 11 games, a stunning stretch of futility that could lead the franchise to fire Kubiak.
“It's been a gut-wrenching experience,” said Kubiak, whose team has lost eight games by seven points or less. “We've been in so many close games.”
Kubiak and the Texans looked as if they would end the streak after a quarterback change, but Geno Hayes intercepted Matt Schaub's pass with 2:08 remaining to seal Jacksonville's first series sweep since 2009.
Schaub came off the bench and carved up Jacksonville's secondary in the second half.
He replaced starter Case Keenum late in the third quarter and led the team to a touchdown and a field goal in his first two possessions. The Texans were in the red zone again, but failed to convert a fourth-down play with 3:37 remaining. Jacksonville picked up a huge first down that flipped the field — not surprising that it came on a penalty — but punted.
Hayes picked off Schaub's next pass, a floater over the middle.
“I kept myself ready to go,” Schaub said. “That's my job, and I'll continue to do so.”
Kubiak said he would take his time before making a decision on a starter.
Schaub completed 17 of 29 passes for 198 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Andre Johnson caught 13 passes for 154 yards.
Still, the Texans walked off the field with an all-too-familiar feeling.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, could get used to this.
The Jaguars won their third straight and fourth in five games since the bye.
This one came with another trick play.
Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch dialed up a double pass that led to a score and a 24-10 lead in the third quarter. Henne threw behind the line of scrimmage to receiver Ace Sanders, who then heaved a deep ball across the field to running back Todman.
No defender was near Todman as he camped under Sanders’ throw. Swearinger pushed Todman just as he hauled in the 21-yard TD reception.
It was the second consecutive week a non-quarterback threw a TD pass for Jacksonville. Maurice Jones-Drew tossed an 8-yard score to college teammate Marcedes Lewis in a 32-28 win at Cleveland last week.
Sanders and Jones-Drew now have as many TD passes this season as benched Jaguars starter Blaine Gabbert.
Henne completed 12 of 27 passes for 117 yards. He hooked up with Lewis for a 1-yard scoring strike in the first quarter and found Cecil Shorts III for a 6-yarder in the second.
The Jaguars took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards for the team's fourth opening-drive touchdown in its last five games.
The Jaguars are enjoying a modest turnaround after starting the season 0-8. Two victories came against Houston, including a 13-6 punt-fest 11 days ago.
“It's been amazing,” Jones-Drew said. “Gus has done a great job.”
The Texans managed a season-low 218 yards in the first meeting. What will they say now?
“The losing streak has been very tough,” Schaub said. “We've been together a few years and have had a lot of positive things happen, so it's very tough to go through this.”