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Jags barely avoid sweep

©Associated Press
November 18, 2002

HOUSTON -- The Jaguars didn't take the expansion team seriously the first time, and it cost them. The Jags were prepared this time, yet they nearly lost again.

Mark Brunell saved Jacksonville from the embarrassment of losing to Houston twice this season by throwing two touchdowns Sunday in the Jaguars' 24-21 win.

"To a certain degree, we took them kind of lightly the first time," running back Stacey Mack said of Jacksonville's 21-19 home loss to Houston on Oct. 27. "We came into this game a lot more aggressively."

The attitude helped the Jags take a 24-7 lead but David Carr nearly led the Texans to another win. He scored on second-half runs of 2 and 14 yards, the latter coming with 2:04 left.

The Texans then took possession at their 18 with 1:32 to play, but Carr was sacked twice and threw an incomplete pass to end it.

Brunell was relieved.

"You have a tendency to get on your heels a little bit after getting a bit lead," Brunell said. "But you have to fight to continue to be aggressive and maintain the attitude that got you the 24 points."

The Jaguars are the only expansion team to beat an opponent twice in its first season since 1960 -- in 1995 against Cleveland.

"We got to where we wanted to be. Now the season begins," said Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin, whose team has won two straight after losing four in a row. "It's a six-game schedule. We did get two wins in a row, and I'm pleased with that. I'm very excited about winning a tough game against a good football team."

Jacksonville went ahead 17-7 at halftime, on a 1-yard run by Mack, Brunell's 2-yard touchdown to tight end Kyle Brady and a 22-yard field goal by Tim Seder.

Houston's Jermaine Lewis fumbled a punt looking into the sun in the third quarter, giving the Jaguars a first down at the Texans 27. Brunell put the Jaguars ahead by 17 with 12:35 left in the third quarter when he ran to his right to escape the rush and hit Jimmy Smith for a 13-yard score.

Carr completed 22 of 30 passes for 228 yards.

"Our team is frustrated, and they are upset," Texans coach Dom Capers said.

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