Texans / Jaguars: The Rivalry

Cornerback Fred Bennett is trying to understand the rivalry between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans. He has heard it's like a college rivalry. He has heard it is more intense than the others. Now he wants to know why. The rookie has been told he will find out Sunday.

"I was asking Dunta (Robinson) why they hate each other so much and he said he had no clue," Bennett said. "I'll be ready. I don't know anything about this rivalry, but I'll be ready."

It's a rivalry that dates back to the Texans' inaugural season, when the team won its first division game and road game by defeating the Jaguars 21-19 in 2002. Houston has also suffered its only shutout against Jacksonville, 27-0, in 2003, and picked up its lone shutout in 2004, 21-0.

A lot of the players that were there from the beginning of the rivalry have moved on, but the intensity is far from diminishing. New players are picking it up right where the old ones left off.

"The funny thing is, I saw it from the other side," said Danny Clark of the rivalry. He was drafted by Jacksonville. "So it was surprising that they came out and beat us their very first time out, that being Houston at the time. And now I'm glad to be on this side to get an opportunity to beat up on my old team, the Jaguars."

The Texans swept the Jaguars last year and lead the series 6-4. The previous year, the Jaguars swept the series.

"We got them twice last year and they were a strong team, and I don't think they expected us to," running back Samkon Gado said. "And I think they're an in-conference rival and we play them more than we do play anybody else. So I mean there is a sense of bad blood between us, but I wouldn't say it's the rivalry of the NFL. But it is to us."

When a team's history only goes back six seasons, it's hard to build big-time rivalries. When the expansion team opened play, Tennessee was expected to be their biggest rival, simply because that franchise started out as the Houston Oilers. It hasn't come to pass though.

That rivalry has only begun to get a spark last season because of the drafting of Houston-native Vince Young. He beat the Texans twice, and Houston fans were clearly divided on who to cheer for.

The Jacksonville rivalry started earlier because the teams have battled each other competitively. There have been very few lopsided contests and no long winning streaks by either team.

"They play with a lot of passion," Texans G Fred Weary said. "They play with a mean streak out there. They have a swagger about them when they step on the field because each year, that's all you hear about is their defensive front and how well they play."

Last year, the Texans defense picked off four passes by David Garrard, and they hope to do the same this season. It won't be easy. Garrard hasn't thrown an interception this season. But the Texans plan to go out and try to play the same physical game that they know Jacksonville will bring to the field Sunday.

SERIES HISTORY: 11th meeting. The Texans lead the series, 6-4, with the Texans winning three of five games in Jacksonville. Over the past three seasons, the winner of the first matchup has gone on to sweep the season series. The Texans swept the Jaguars last season. The defense lifted the Texans to a 13-10 victory on the road in Jacksonville last year by picking off Garrard four times.

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