The rivalry between Trevor Lawrence and C.J. Stroud is not just about individual performances. It concerns team spirit, strategic gameplay, and the sheer will to win. While Stroud seems to be lighting the NFL on fire, Lawrence reminded everyone in Week 12 who the king of the division is. Following the 24-21 win, the AFC South belongs to Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Return of the King: Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars best CJ Stroud in Week 12
King Trevor, the first of his name, was a lot better than his 364 yards and two touchdowns suggest. A touchdown strike to Calvin Ridley fell just off his hands, which would have added 40 yards and a touchdown.
Christian Kirk's incredible breakout play in the closing seconds of the half nearly added another touchdown, on top of the beautiful pass; he barely missed another highlight-reel grab that just got caught in the sun. It was inches from being a 450-yard, four-touchdown career outing in the biggest divisional game of the Jaguars' season for Lawrence.
In two games against C.J. Strouds Texans, Lawrence has completed 63 percent of his passes for 643 yards, and three touchdowns.
Stroud did not disappoint in his attempt at usurping Lawrence. Although he had yet another outstanding game, it wasn't nearly enough to beat the Jags. A near touchdown in the first quarter called back for an illegal formation, and we may be telling a different legend about the rise of King CJ.
In two games against the Jaguars and Trevor Lawrence, Stroud is 46-of-66 (69 percent completion rate) for 584 yards and five touchdowns.
The Jaguars came on top despite questionable officiating vs. the Texans
Leaving aside Trevor Lawrence's impressive outing, the dubious job Clay Martin's officiating crew did left a dark stain on the beginning of a terrific rivalry. Early in the game, his crew seemed to be favoring the Texans, with zero holding calls on a completely overwhelmed Houston offensive line.
Questionable calls and no calls came at almost every crucial play, especially in the third quarter. The Jaguar's Lawrence threw what was ruled an interception by Texans cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. when Jags tight end Evan Engram was clearly held, disrupting a wonderfully read and executed pass.
All in all, the suspect referee crew led by Clay Martin called 13 total penalties for 84 yards. The Jaguars had six flags for 35 yards, and the Texans had seven for 48 yards. Consistent with the suspect, Martins's season-long stat of 59 percent of penalties going against the home team.
Historically, Martin has been in the top five referees for defensive pass interference in three of his five seasons. This season, he has been much more calculated with his PI calls, but when the penalty has been called, all have been assessed on the home team.
The terrible officiating aside, it turned out to be a phenomenal escalation of a burgeoning rivalry we can't wait to see again next season. If the Texans can rebound, we could get this epic rematch in the playoffs, and we are all here for it.
The future looks promising for both the Jags and the Houston Texans. As the season's final leg plays out, seeing how Trevor Lawrence and C.J. Stroud shape their respective teams' destinies will be interesting.