Leftwich's debut tarnished by critical fumble

HOUSTON (AP) -- Dom Capers decided the game was going to end in 2

seconds. David Carr made it the right choice.

Down by three with the ball inside the Jacksonville 1-yard-line,

Capers kept the Texans' offense on the field rather than send the

game into overtime with a short field goal. Carr took the snap and

immediately stretched the ball over the goal line as time expired

for a 24-20 Houston victory.

Allen's Analysis

Eric Allen

Question on the Jaguars: How come the Jags can't hold on to late leads?

It's difficult for a team to get the first win, and this is a great example. They have a lot of youth on this team, who don't know how to finish a game in the NFL. That's why it's good to surround young players with veteran leadership. The result of not doing that is late-game mistakes that end up costing team victories.

Question on the Texans: Talk about Dom Capers' decision to go for the TD on the last play.

This was a gutsy call by Capers. He's comfortable with his team and their abilities and showed them how to finish a game. This will be a great confidence-booster for the Texans. They know they can win close games and know their coaches have faith in them.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

"When I saw how close we were, I thought, 'Let's go for it.

Let's try to win the game and end this thing right now," Capers


The Texans (2-2) had to wait a few anxious moments while

officials reviewed whether Carr got the ball over the line before

it was swatted away.

"You go on instincts," Capers said. "If we don't make that,

you guys are asking me about it for the next year. I had a gut


The play sent Jacksonville to 0-4, its worst start since the

franchise's inaugural year in 1995, but coach Jack Del Rio

initially was glad to see the Texans go for broke.

"I thought that gave us an opportunity to win the game right

there," Del Rio said. "The quarterback fumbled the ball but it's

one of many rules that are tilted offensively. He did a nice job

jumping over the line before he lost control of it."

Del Rio conceded the officials were correct.

"It was a gutsy call. If they don't make it, they lose the

game," Del Rio said.

Until then, it appeared it might be rookie quarterback Byron Leftwich's day.

Leftwich, making his first start in relief of an injured Mark

Brunell, threw three interceptions but had the Jaguars ahead late

in the fourth quarter and got the ball back when the Texans' Stacey

Mack threw an ill-advised halfback pass to a double-covered Andre

Johnson, and Jason Craft came down with the interception.

The game turned with 2:42 remaining when Leftwich scrambled

around the right end for nine yards and fumbled during an Eric

Brown tackle.

The Texans' Matt Stevens fell on the ball at the Jacksonville

41, forcing Leftwich to watch from the sidelines as Carr and

running back Domanick Davis marched the down the field. The Texans

had six chances to score from inside the Jacksonville 5 and the

Jaguars committed three penalties in that time before Carr's


"When you're six inches away from the goal line you can't give

that up," Carr said. "I'd rather take my shot right there. It was

a great call by the coaching staff and I am glad that I just got up

with the touchdown."

Leftwich tied the game at 17 with a franchise-record 84-yard

touchdown pass in the third quarter to Troy Edwards, who only

signed with Jacksonville on Tuesday.

Seth Marler gave the Jaguars their first lead later in the

quarter with a 20-yard field goal after a LaBrandon Toefield

halfback pass to fullback Marc Edwards put them on the Texans'

6-yard line.

Leftwich, officially announced as the starter shortly before the

game, was 17-of-36 for 231 yards. The second-year Carr was 23-of-36

for 234 yards.

"I think I could have been a whole lot better," Leftwich said.

"We did everything you could ask for. I just can't make that

mistake at the end."

The Texans started quickly as Carr and Mack drove steadily

downfield to the Jacksonville 5-yard line, where Mack galloped in

with little resistance for a 7-0 lead.

Leftwich's first drive as a pro appeared to stall on

fourth-and-10 at the Houston 36 when Del Rio decided to go for it.

Leftwich made the move pay off when he found Jimmy Redmond on the

right side and Redmond ran for a 22-yard gain.

The Jaguars stalled again, however, but this time they were

close enough for Seth Marler to hit a 29-yard field goal.

J.J. Moses' 46-yard return on the ensuing kickoff set up a short

drive capped by a 24-yard Carr-to-Jabar Gaffney scoring pass early

in the second quarter. It was the first time in the Texans' 20-game

history they scored on their first two possessions.

Fred Taylor sprinted around the left side from a yard out midway

into the second quarter to cut Houston's lead to 14-10.

Game notes
Stacey Mack's streak of carries without a fumble ended

at 330, when he lost a ball that Jacksonville recovered in the

first half. Then he dropped a pitch on his next play from

scrimmage. ... Texans cornerback Aaron Glenn did not return after

sustaining a sprained groin in the first quarter. ... Brunell was

out because of a deep cut he suffered on his throwing elbow last

weekend in Indianapolis. He was inactive Sunday but was listed as

the emergency quarterback if Leftwich and backup David Garrard had

been knocked out.