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Brandin Cooks powers Texans past struggling Jaguars

Sportsnaut
Dec 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks (13) runs with the ball for a touchdown during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks (13) runs with the ball for a touchdown during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Brandin Cooks recorded his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season while Ka’imi Fairbairn booted a pair of 50-plus-yard field goals as the Houston Texans completed a season sweep of the reeling Jacksonville Jaguars with a 30-16 victory Sunday at TIAA Bank Field.

Cooks capped the Texans’ opening possession with a 22-yard touchdown reception and sealed the win with a 43-yard touchdown with 2:22 left to play, taking a short screen pass before capitalizing on exceptional blocking as Houston (3-11) sent the Jaguars (2-12) to their sixth consecutive loss. Cooks finished with seven receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Fairbairn converted three field goals including kicks of 52 and 51 yards in the second quarter, the latter coming on the final play of the first half to give the Texans a 20-10 lead at the break.

The Texans had 11 players unavailable due to positive COVID-19 tests, including linebackers Jonathan Greenard, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Christian Kirksey. Houston held up defensively despite the absences, limiting the Jaguars to 296 yards while getting contributions from special teamers filling in. Tavierre Thomas, Garret Wallow and Neville Hewitt all posted 10-plus tackles.

Houston enjoyed an explosive start, covering 75 yards in 15 plays on its opening drive, a touchdown march aided by a penalty on Jaguars defensive end Adam Gotsis as the Texans punted following a 3-and-out. Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills helped Houston convert four third downs on the scoring march including his touchdown pass to Cooks for a 7-0 lead.

The Texans extended to a 14-3 lead when Tremon Smith delivered a 98-yard kickoff return for a score with 1:42 left in the first, the first for the Texans since Oct. 4, 2009 — a span of 201 games. Smith ended the longest current drought without a kickoff return for a touchdown in the NFL.

James Robinson capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive with his 1-yard touchdown run with 12:09 left in the half to pull the Jaguars to within 14-10. But Jacksonville struggled to sustain marches for the remainder of the game, finishing 3 of 14 on third downs in their first contest following the dismissal of coach Urban Meyer last week. Rookie Trevor Lawrence passed for 210 yards.

–Field Level Media