The Jacksonville Jaguars found a quiet and tiny crowd at the Astrodome the right situation to feed their playoff hopes against the Houston Oilers.
Natrone Means scored two touchdowns and the Jaguars' defense stuffed a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Oilers, 23-17, Sunday and remain in the playoff picture in their second year.
A crowd of 20,196--the third-smallest to attend an Oiler game at the Astrodome--watched the Tennessee-bound Oilers drop to 7-7 as the Jaguars (7-7) won their third game in a row for the first time. Houston's loss was its fifth in seven games.
"This was big for us," Jaguar Coach Tom Coughlin said. "All we've got to do is keep winning and don't worry about the rest."
The lethargic crowd didn't get into the game until the fourth quarter. That's when the Oilers, after falling behind, 17-7, rallied on a six-yard touchdown run by Eddie George that was set up by a 42-yard kickoff return by Mel Gray and a 41-yard pass from Steve McNair to Chris Sanders.
The Jaguars added a 38-yard field goal by Mike Hollis with 6:13 to play, and then the defense went to work on McNair, who started his second consecutive game for an injured Chris Chandler.
"I don't think it would have made a difference who they started at quarterback, we were so pumped up," safety Chris Hudson said.
Starting at the 23, McNair took the Oilers to their 46 before Kevin Hardy sacked McNair for a 10-yard loss and Ronnie Harmon lost three yards on a screen pass.
Then, on third and 23, McNair fumbled, his third turnover of the game, after being sacked by Tony Brackens. Don Davey recovered for Jacksonville at the Oilers' 32, setting up Hollis for his third field goal, a 31-yarder with 1:56 left.
"That was probably one of the best defensive stands we've had this year," Jaguar defensive end Jeff Lageman said.
Mark Brunell completed 15 of 25 passes for 172 yards for the Jaguars, ending a string of 15 consecutive games passing for 200 or more yards.