HOUSTON -- Bolstered by a ferocious defense, a resolute effort from the offensive line, and a strong debut by rookie running back Leonard Fournette, quarterback Blake Bortles effectively managed the Jacksonville Jaguars' 29-7 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium.
Bortles, on shaky ground as the incumbent under center, passed for 125 yards and a touchdown while avoiding the critical mistakes that have undermined his development.
Fournette, meanwhile, rushed for 100 yards including a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and displayed the bruising running style that made him a coveted prospect out of LSU.
Still, the Jaguars (1-0) snapped their six-game series losing skid to the Texans (1-0) with a dominating defensive performance. Jacksonville sacked Texans quarterback Tom Savage six times in the first half while limiting Houston to just 52 yards on 28 plays prior to intermission. One sack, by defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, resulted in a Savage fumble that Dante Fowler Jr. returned 53 yards for a touchdown and a 19-0 lead with 49 seconds remaining in the first half.
Savage was so effectively bludgeoned, completing 7 of 13 attempts for 62 yards, that Texans head coach Bill O'Brien switched quarterbacks at halftime, selecting rookie Deshaun Watson to start the third quarter. The first-round pick out of Clemson provided a temporary spark during his first series, engineering a 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive culminating in his 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Watson completed 5 of 8 passes for 37 yards on the march.
But Bortles and the Jaguars responded with a 10-play, 75-yard march, with Bortles finding fullback Tommy Bohanon for a 1-yard pass and a 26-7 lead. Bortles was not sacked once.
Watson finished 12 for 23 for 102 yards with an interception. Jacksonville totaled 10 sacks.
NOTES: Jaguars rookie WR Dede Westbrook was placed on injured reserve on Friday with eligibility to return after eight weeks. Westbrook, a fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma, was hampered by a core muscle injury, but played in the preseason finale against Atlanta. ... Texans LT Chris Clark replaced starter Kendall Lamm late in the first half. Texans three-time Pro Bowl LT Duane Brown is holding out. Texans LG Xavier Su'a-Filo was replaced by Greg Mancz to start the second half, but returned alongside Lamm later in the third quarter. ... The Texans lost LB Brian Cushing, WR Bruce Ellington and TEs C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin to concussions. ... Jaguars DE Calais Campbell had 3.5 of the six first-half sacks of Texans QB Tom Savage.