Jaguars jolt Texans, clinch first playoff berth in 10 years
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars clinched their first playoff berth since 2007 in style.
Quarterback Blake Bortles passed for three touchdowns in the first half to lead Jacksonville to a 45-7 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday at EverBank Field. The Jaguars led 31-0 at halftime, the largest margin in franchise history.
Jacksonville (10-4) remained in control of first place over the AFC South under first-year head coach Doug Marrone. The Jaguars won 17 games in the previous five seasons, the lowest total in the NFL.
Houston (4-10), which has lost four straight and seven of its last eight, was outscored 74-14 en route to being swept by the Jaguars.
Bortles completed 21-of-29 passes for 326 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a career-high passer rating of 143.8.
He did it with a group of unproven receivers after veteran Marqise Lee injured his ankle in the first quarter. The Jaguars were already without Allen Robinson (injured reserve) and Allen Hurns (ankle).
Undrafted rookie Keelan Cole caught seven passes for 186 yards and a touchdown. First-year receiver Jaydon Mickens caught two touchdowns in the second quarter.
Mickens was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 18 and promoted to the active roster on Oct. 21. He quickly established himself as a dangerous punt returner, winning AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors twice in his first seven games.
Lee's injury gave Mickens the opportunity to shine against the Texans.
Bortles continued his recent strong play. The fourth-year veteran has thrown for 903 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in the last three games combined.
The Jaguars opened the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run by fullback Tommy Bohanon to take a 7-0 lead with 3:52 left in the first quarter.
Bortles then found Mickens for touchdown passes of 5 and 14 yards.
After Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo connected from 38 yards to give the Jaguars a 24-0 lead, Bortles put the game away following an interception by Jaguars strong safety Barry Church with 37 seconds left until halftime.
He connected with Cole for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 26 seconds left in the second quarter.
That was more than enough for the NFL's top-ranked scoring defense. The Texans, starting third-team quarterback T.J. Yates, managed 58 yards and were called for 93 yards in penalties in the first half.
Yates did find receiver DeAndre Hopkins for a 25-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
The Jaguars answered with another Bohanon touchdown and an 8-yard run by running back Corey Grant.
Houston finished the game with 186 total yards.
NOTES: Jaguars DE Calais Campbell recorded two sacks to extend his single-season franchise record to 14.5. ... The Texans lost two starting offensive linemen in the game: C Nick Martin (ankle) and RG Jeff Allen (concussion). ... The Jaguars sent backup QB Chad Henne into the game with 12:33 left in the fourth quarter. ... Jaguars rookie RB Leonard Fournette was inactive with a quad injury. The fourth overall pick in the draft did not practice all week. Fournette has carried 231 times for 923 yards with eight touchdowns this season. ... Houston continues to improve its first-round draft position. The only problem is winless Cleveland owns the pick after the Texans traded up to take quarterback Deshaun Watson this year.