Houston clinched their third AFC South title and first since 2012 with a 30-6 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) at NRG Stadium on Sunday. The Texans (9-7) closed the regular season with three consecutive intra-division wins.
For the Jaguars the season comes to an end with high expectations for improvement next season. Head coach Gus Bradley is 12-36 in three seasons and will return according to owner Shad Kahn.
“We really need to dig deep,” Bradley said Monday. “It’s a results-driven league, and we’re not to the results we had hoped for. That’s what we need to look at.”
Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles threw for 239 yards, no touchdowns with two interceptions and was sacked eight times, a Texans’ franchise record. The offense could only muster a couple of field goals by Jason Myers due to a resurgence of the Texans’ defense led by J.J. Watt.
"It's tough to end the year on a note like that," Bortles said. "I guess the good thing is that we have a lot of time to look at it and figure out how to fix it."
Watt, recovering from a broken left hand, recorded eight combined tackles, four QB hits, three sacks, two batted passes, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Teammate Whitney Mercilus had five combined tackles, a career high 3.5 sacks and three quarterback hits.
Texans QB Brian Hoyer returned from missing two-games due to injury and passed for 249 yards and a score. Running back Jonathan Grimes scored twice and Nick Novak kicked field goals of 29, 51 and 51 yards.
HOUSTON GAME NOTES - Jacksonville averaged 31.8 points over last five games before Sunday….. Jacksonville wide receiver Neal Sterling was out with a concussion in the first half and did not return…. Houston took a 20-3 halftime lead on one of the two TDs by Jonathan Grimes…. Jacksonville’s defense finished the season ranked 24th in the league in yards allowed, finishing 31st in the NFL by allowing opponents to score touchdowns in the red zone. The 448 points allowed ranked 31st… J.J. Watts still leads the NFL with 17 1/2 sacks. He joins Reggie White as the only players to have three 15-sack years in their first five years in the NFL….The Texans used four quarterbacks this season, and recovered nicely after starting the season 2-5
BORTLES SETS CLUB RECORD – Jaguars QB Blake Bortles, drafted in 2014, has set franchise records for completions (355) and passing yards (4,428) surpassing Mark Brunell, who threw for 4,367 yards in 1996 . Bortles entered the Houston game with 35 touchdown passes, second-most in the NFL.
ROBINSON, HURNS LEAD RECEIVERS - With his 22-yard reception in the first half, Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson recorded his 30th catch of at least 20 yards, the most in the NFL this season and the most in franchise history. Robinson closed the season with team highs in receptions (80), yards (1,400) and touchdowns (14). Allen Hurns finished with three receptions for 17 yards. Hurns will undergo sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia next week. He started 15 games with 64 receptions for 1,017 yards and 10 touchdowns.
FREE AGENCY – According to media reports, the Jaguars have more than $40 million in available salary cap space. Look for some to be spent in free agency in the offseason. There’s also a chance some players will either not return next season or be asked to take a pay cut. The evaluation process has begun.