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With each victory, the Houston Texans increasingly established
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EAST RUTHERFORD Zach Brown Jersey , N.J. (AP) —  themselves as a team to beat in the AFC.Their nine-game winning streak set a franchise record and also raised expectations by the week. So, perhaps their 24-21 loss to Indianapolis last Sunday could, in some way, alleviate some building tension down the stretch.Right, Deshaun Watson?Article continues below ...“You only put pressure on yourself,” Watson said. “For us, we don’t really put pressure on ourselves. We don’t really focus on that. Of course, we didn’t want to lose. We always want to win and try to continue to stack those, but it just kind of goes that way sometimes. It’s the National Football League.“We just try to focus on the next opponent, the next game and try to get back in the win column.”Watson and the Texans (9-4) will get their chance to do that Saturday when they take on Sam Darnold and the struggling New York Jets (4-9).Houston could clinch the AFC South title with a win and then a loss or tie by both Indianapolis and Tennessee on Sunday, or with a tie and losses by both the Colts and Titans. The Texans could also seal a playoff berth with a combination of other scenarios involving several other teams.Either way, they know they can set themselves up nicely with a victory at MetLife Stadium.“With three games left throughout the regular season, I think you home in and focus in,” cornerback Johnathan Joseph said, “especially on one game at a time, 12 quarters of football, however it has to be.”Meanwhile, the Jets are just focused on the finish line — and perhaps the end of coach Todd Bowles’ tenure.New York snapped a six-game skid last Sunday with a 27-23 win at Buffalo Devin Bush Jersey , but it would appear Bowles will not be back next season after four years without a trip to the playoffs. General manager Mike Maccagnan is not a certainty to return, either, with some misses in the draft and free agency during his tenure.“It’s the same thing every week: We want to win every game, regardless of whether we’re going to the playoffs or not,” Bowles said. “We want to get every game and get better as a team. That’s all we’re trying to accomplish.”Here are some things to know about the Texans-Jets matchup:WET WEATHERIt’s expected to rain for much of the day, with showers at kickoff. That will be something different for the Texans, whose home stadium — NRG Stadium — features a retractable roof.“You’ve just got to go out there and try to grip the ball as best you can,” said Watson, playing at MetLife for the first time. “You focus on your footwork a little bit more, be cautious with that and understand that the receivers might — depending on the turf or the grass, wherever we’re playing — (focus on) their footwork. … You’ve got to just go play ball.”SAM’S CLUBDarnold returned from a strained foot that sidelined him for three games and went 24 of 30 passing (80.0 percent) in the win against the Bills. It marked the fifth time in team history a player had a completion percentage of 80 or better and the first since Chad Pennington did it twice in 2007.He also showed off some cool nerves by leading his first fourth-quarter comeback.“I think every experience for him, he’s so into it,” offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said. “He doesn’t get real high, doesn’t get real low, he just takes every moment as a learning moment, both good and bad. So, I think it’s just another moment that he’s going to take for the rest of his career, for the rest of his life and use it as a teaching experience.”MISSING WEAPONSDarnold will be without two key playmakers on offense with top running back Isaiah Crowell (toe) and wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (ankle) both ruled out with injuries.Elijah McGuire and rookie Trenton Cannon will see increased opportunities in the backfield, while Rishard Matthews and Deontay Burnett could be called on to replace Enunwa.WATT’S UPHouston’s J.J. Watt has bounced back this year to have another strong season after playing just eight games over the previous two years because of a back surgery and a broken leg.The defensive end leads the team with 12 1/2 sacks Diontae Johnson Jersey , 22 quarterback hits, 15 tackles for losses and a career-high five forced fumbles. His 88 1/2 career sacks are the second most through a player’s first 101 games, trailing only the 106 that Reggie White had.“The last two years were extremely difficult,” he said. “But, to be here, to be playing meaningful football in December, playing in big games in winter time and me being out there on the field participating in those games, is awesome. This is just, it feels good to be back in that situation, to be back on the field, to be getting the sacks, to be playing good football, to be with the guys.”TAKING CARE OF THE BALLThe Texans did not turn the ball over last week, marking the sixth time this season that they’ve had zero turnovers in a game.It’s the second-best streak in a season in franchise history. A big reason: Watson has thrown just two interceptions in the last seven games after being picked off seven times in the first six games. KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The fourth-down play was designed to go left, yet there was Patrick Mahomes scrambling to his right with a phalanx of Ravens in pursuit, his eyes trained on Tyreek Hill deep downfield.Mahomes heaved an audacious throw. Hill made an incredible catch.The Chiefs proceeded to score a tying touchdown on a pass to Damien Williams on another fourth-down play to force overtime. Then they watched as Harrison Butker booted a 36-yard field goal — atoning for a miss as time expired — and their maligned defense stuffed Baltimore to escape with a 27-24 victory Sunday.Article continues below ...“You always want to be in a position to go win a game,” said Mahomes, who threw for 377 yards and two scores as the Chiefs clinched a playoff berth. “These are the best wins when you have to battle Justin Layne Jersey , when you trade plays. These are the ones that you remember the most.”The Ravens looked as if they might match Butker’s field goal, marching across midfield in overtime, but Ronnie Stanley’s holding penalty put them in a bind. Jackson was then sacked by Justin Houston and Dee Ford — and left with an ankle injury — before Robert Griffin III threw two incompletions to end it.“We played a heck of a game. Just didn’t get it down,” said Jackson, who insisted after X-rays came back negative that he would be OK. “We’ve got to regroup next week and get ready for our next game.”Tyreek Hill caught eight passes for 139 yards for Kansas City (11-2), including three in overtime to set up the eventual winning field goal. Travis Kelce had seven catches for 77 yards and another score, becoming the first tight end in league history with at least 80 receptions and 1,000 yards receiving in three consecutive seasons.Jackson finished with 147 yards and two touchdowns for the Ravens, who had never lost in three trips to Arrowhead Stadium. Jackson also had 71 yards rushing in his fourth start in place of Joe Flacco .“We didn’t come here for no moral victory,” Ravens pass rusher Terrell Suggs said. “We didn’t come here to ‘do well’ against a 10-2 team, now 11-2. No, we came to win.”Both teams looked as if they had the game won in regulation.The Ravens (7-6) took the lead with 4:04 to go when a long punt return gave them a short field, and Jackson threw a third-down touchdown pass to John Brown. But the NFL’s top-ranked defense twice allowed the league’s highest-scoring offense to convert on fourth down .The first came on fourth-and-9 at the Chiefs 40, when Mahomes scrambled to his right and threw his absurd cross-body heave to a hobbled Hill for a 40-yard gain. The second came on fourth-and-3 at the Ravens 5, when Mahomes threw his dump-off to Williams for the tying touchdown.“I mean, Pat makes unbelievable throws every game, it’s just the kind of player he is,” Kelce said. “You’re never dead on any play as a wide receiver, tight end or running back in the routes.”As the Ravens tried to get into range for kicker Justin Tucker Benny Snell Jr. Jersey , Houston strip-sacked Jackson to give Kansas City the ball. Butker proceeded to miss his second field goal of the game to force overtime.He made up for that miss a few minutes later.“All I’m trying to do is make it through the uprights. That’s what I do every time,” he said. “I try to split up the kicks, so I’m not thinking about the past. Every kick is a new kick.”The Chiefs at times had no problem slicing up the Ravens’ staunch defense, putting together a pair of long TD drives to take a 17-10 lead into the break. Williams capped the first with his short TD plunge and Kelce finished the other with a nice over-the-shoulder catch.At other times, the Ravens got enough pressure on Mahomes to make him look like a rookie.The Chiefs, whose own defense ranks near the bottom of the league, held their own much of the game. They allowed a 75-yard drive entirely on the ground in the first half, which Kenneth Dixon finished with a 3-yard run, but otherwise kept Jackson and Co. from making big plays.“We played really well,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, “and they made some plays.”HUNT NEWSChiefs chairman Clark Hunt said the organization was aware of three separate off-field incidents that led to the release of star running back Kareem Hunt nine days ago. That includes the alleged assault in a Cleveland hotel that was captured on a security camera. All three cases were reported to the NFL. “The NFL was investigating them,” Clark Hunt said in his first comments on the case. “The league has spent a lot of time and resources trying to build a department that can handle these types of situations. Obviously it is imperfect. I’m not sure you can ever reach perfection.”TWEET TROUBLERavens FB-DL Patrick Ricard apologized after the game for racist and homophobic tweets that he made in high school and surfaced late Saturday, calling them “inappropriate and unacceptable.” The Ravens said in a statement before the game that they condemned the tweets. Ricard was a healthy scratch for the game.SACKS STREAKKansas City defensive lineman Chris Jones recorded a sack, giving him at least one in each of the Chiefs’ past nine games — the first player with a sack in at least nine consecutive games in a single season since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982. He’s also the sixth player since 1982 to record at least one sack in nine consecutive games at any point.SELECT COMPANYMahomes joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Dan Marino (1984) and Kurt Warner (1999) as the only first- or second-year quarterbacks in league history with at least 4,000 yards passing and 40 touchdown passes in a single season.INJURIESRavens: Flacco (hip) and SS Tony Jefferson (ankle) were inactive for the game.Chiefs: RB Spencer Ware left late in the first half after FS Eric Weddle forced him out of bounds and he landed hard on his right shoulder. He returned after halftime. … Hill (heel) also left late in the half before returning. … WR Sammy Watkins (foot) and SS Eric Berry (heel) were inactive.UP NEXTRavens: Return home to face the Buccaneers next Sunday.Chiefs: Play the Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night.
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