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By MARK LONG | AP Pro Football Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Andrew Beck craned his neck after crossing the goal line, checking for penalty flags before celebrating.
He scanned the field and found none, so he gladly let his teammates mob him in the end zone.
This was one for the record books.
Beck, a 255-pound fullback from nearby Tampa, became the heaviest player in NFL history to return a kickoff for a touchdown in Houston’s 37-17 drubbing of Jacksonville on Sunday.
He didn’t exactly rumble, bumble or stumble, either. After initially fumbling the kick, Beck picked up the loose ball, broke five tackles and outran several defenders on his way to an 85-yard score, his first touchdown since his rookie year in 2019.
“Had a little bit of a car accident and just grabbed the ball and looked up and saw some space,” he said. “I just started hauling (butt) and it worked out all right. Sometimes that’s just how it goes; you’ve got to make a play.”
Beck’s big return was the most memorable play in a game filled with highlights for the Texans (1-2).
Coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud notched their first victories. Tank Dell set the franchise record for receiving yards by a rookie, finishing with five catches for 145 yards. And No. 3 overall pick Will Anderson became the first Houston rookie to block a field goal since JJ Watt did so in 2011.
“It’s special,” Ryans said. “To get the first win, it definitely was special.”
Stroud threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns, including a 68-yarder to Dell that sealed the victory, and became the first player in NFL history with 906 yards passing, four TDs and no interceptions through his first three games.
The Texans won their fifth in a row in Jacksonville. They’ve now won 16 of the past 19, including 10 of 11, in the series. As lopsided as the AFC South rivalry has been recently, Jacksonville’s performance as 7 1/2-point favorites at home might have been even more staggering.
The Jaguars (1-2) were flat from the start and struggled to get anything going. Their first five drives ended in a missed field goal, a punt, a blocked field goal, a punt and a fumble.
Trailing 17-0 at halftime, they scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter to get back in the game. But then they botched the ensuing kickoff about as badly as anyone could imagine.
Beck eluded all 11 defenders on his way to one of the rarest touchdowns in NFL history. Caleb Johnson, Tre Herndon, Jacob Harris, Daniel Thomas, Brandon McManus and D’Ernest Johnson also had shots at tackling Beck. None of them got him to the ground.
Beck became the first fullback to return a kickoff for a touchdown since Jacksonville’s Derrick Wimbush accomplished the feat in 2005. Wimbush returned one 91 yards for a score in a 24-17 victory at Arizona in Week 12.
“Those types of things are unacceptable,” Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said. “Just poor execution. We couldn’t get him on the ground. Great play by them. Just failed execution.”
Trevor Lawrence threw for 279 yards, with a touchdown to Christian Kirk and an interception. Travis Etienne totaled 138 yards, including 88 rushing.
Calvin Ridley, though, dropped three passes — including two in the end zone — and was flagged twice for false starts. And Jacksonville’s defense allowed Houston to go 9 of 15 on third-down conversations.
“We need to coach better. We need to play better. We need to execute better,” Pederson said. “Whether we are reading our press clip, we need to get out of our own way right now. We need to evaluate ourselves, beginning with me. We have to figure out how to win a game.”
Jaguars rookie right tackle Anton Harrison injured his right ankle in the second half and was limping in the locker room.
Texans cornerback Shaquill Griffin, thrust into the starting lineup because of Derek Stingley’s hamstring injury, returned to Jacksonville for the first time since the Jaguars released him in March and played well. He could be seen jawing with several of his former teammates throughout the game.
“I got released by that team during my surgery, so it got very personal,” said Griffin, who missed most of last season with a back injury. “You try to give so much to somebody. … I gave everything I had to it. So, yeah, everything was personal.
“In my head, I’m walking around saying, ‘(Shoot), they took everything from me. I had my crib here, kids here. We had to move, so yeah, it got very personal. So I needed that one.”
The Texans host the Steelers next Sunday.
The Jaguars travel to London for two games, the first a “home game” against Atlanta at Wembley Stadium.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL