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Jaguars pitch shutout

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Houston Texans came to Jacksonville thinking about piecing together their first winning streak. They left without the win, without a single point, and claiming a newfound respect for the Jaguars.

Tony Brackens had two sacks yesterday to lead Jacksonville's improving defense to a 27-0 win, handing the Texans their first shutout and turning rookie quarterback Dave Ragone's debut into a total dud.

The Texans (5-8) played without starting quarterback David Carr and running back Domanick Davis. That hurt, they agreed, but several in the locker room felt the reasons for the shutout went deeper.

"That was, by far, the most physical defense I've ever played against, seen or heard of," said Texans tight end Billy Miller, a fourth-year veteran. "I don't know what the head coach told those boys, but from the first game to this game, I think they went out and got 11 new guys on defense. I've never seen such a transformation."

The Jaguars, who come to Foxborough next Sunday to play the Patriots, lost, 24-20, to Houston in Week 4 to fall to 0-4.

This time, Jacksonville (4-9) and the league's sixth-ranked defense held Houston to 124 yards. It was the Jaguars' first shutout since Dec. 3, 2000, a 48-0 win over Cleveland. "It felt like it was just something that was waiting to happen," defensive tackle Marcus Stroud said.

The offense was good, too.

Fred Taylor broke a late 62-yard run to finish with a season-high 163. Jimmy Smith caught a 32-yard touchdown and Byron Leftwich threw for 194 yards to lift Jacksonville to its first winning streak since last November.

The Texans, meanwhile, lost a good chance to put together the first winning streak in the franchise's 29-game history. But really, they never had a chance.

Subbing for Davis, whose thigh injury kept him out, Tony Hollings ran for 19 yards on 18 carries. Carr, out with the flu, was replaced by Ragone. The rookie from Louisville went 11 for 23 for 71 yards and an interception.

"You have to rally around the guys who are in there," offensive lineman Steve McKinney said. "It seemed like we were going backward all day."

While Ragone failed to lead the Texans to a score, he did get one thing some quarterbacks wait years for -- his first career reception. He caught his own pass, which had been deflected by Stroud at the line. Despite their record, the Jaguars are shooting up the NFL rankings. They'll probably move up from sixth in overall defense, and their second-rated run defense could improve, too; the Texans had only 70 yards rushing.

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