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Houston Texans dominate Jacksonville Jaguars in regular-season finale

By The Sports Xchange
Houston Texans dominate Jacksonville Jaguars in regular-season finale
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) eludes the tackle of Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (22) on November 12, 2017 at the LA Coliseum in Los Angeles. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans pushed their win total to 11-5 with their Week 17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars by a final score of 20-3.

Led by the play of Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt, the Texans put together a complete first half while bleeding the clock in the second half to take home a convincing win over last season's AFC South champion Jaguars.

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The Jaguars got on the board early with a 25-yard field goal from kicker Kai Forbath after a questionable penalty on the Texans for blocking a gunner into returner DeAndre Carter after clearly signaling fair catch. After a lengthy review, the officials ruled that the Jaguars recovered the loose ball to set up the field goal and give the Jaguars a 3-0 lead.

The Texans soon answered back with a strong drive from Watson with a big gain to get the offense into the red area with a strike to Hopkins for 26 yards. The drive was capped by a Ka'imi Fairbairn field goal for 23 yards, locking the game up at 3-3. With that field goal, Fairbairn became the franchise leader in field goals made in a season with 36, passing Nick Novak who had the previous record.

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After uninspiring drives by both teams, the Texans got a break at midfield after Jaguars punt returner DeDe Westbrook muffed a punt that was recovered by inside linebacker Zach Cunningham. That set up a four-play, 24-yard drive with a well-designed run by Watson for a 5-yard touchdown. The play of the drive was a 27-yard defensive pass interference by the Jaguars while covering Texans wide receiver Steven Mitchell Jr. who was tackled mid route after having his defender beat on his route going deep.

Later in the second quarter, Watson started to pick up the offense with his legs and passing. A near disaster of an interception that was dropped by Jaguars inside linebacker Myles Jack was caught by Hopkins on the deflection for a 13-yard gain to get the Texans into scoring position. The next offensive play, Texans running back Lamar Miller started to wake up in the running game and had a strong 7-yard touchdown run after dropping his pads and running through Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon on his way through the end zone. That Texans scoring drive was a nine-play, 64-yard drive that extended the score to 17-3.

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Late in the second quarter, Watt sacked Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. He has 15.5 sacks on the season. That sack put Watt with four seasons with at least 15 sacks, which is second to Reggie White who did it five times in his career. Watt and the Texans' defense dominated the Jaguars' offense by holding them to one first down and 37 total yards in the first half while averaging 1.7 yards per play.

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The second half was uninspiring on both sides of the football, but the Texans' offense was able to bleed the clock. Hopkins set a career high with his 114th reception of the season and he worked Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey for a majority of the game and set up another field goal with a 43-yard reception on a go route over Ramsey. Fairbairn hit a 24-yard field goal to extend the Texans' lead to 20-3 early in the fourth quarter.

Hopkins was a big player in the Texans' offense on Sunday, posting 12 receptions for 147 yards which helped him set career highs in catches and receiving yards in a season. Hopkins put up 115 receptions on the season, tying him with Andre Johnson for the most catches in a season in franchise history.

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The Texans played it close to the vest in the second half and ended up closing the game out with a 20-3 win over the Jaguars. Moving to 11-5, the Texans notched their third AFC South title under Bill O'Brien in five seasons. They are assured a home playoff game at NRG Stadium with their opponent yet to be determined.

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PLAYER NOTES:

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S Justin Reid had a cast on his left hand and practiced with it the entire week.

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K Ka'imi Fairbairn passed former K Nick Novak (35 in 2016) for the most made field goals in a single season in franchise history.

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QB Deshaun Watson eclipsed 4,000 yards passing in the second quarter and became the first quarterback to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns and rush for 500 yards and five touchdowns in a single season in NFL History. Watson joined Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton as the only three quarterbacks in NFL history with 4,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards in a season. Watson also became the first Texans quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season since former Texans quarterback Matt Schaub did it in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

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DE J.J. Watt joined Reggie White with his last sack as the only players in NFL history with four or more seasons with at least 15 sacks. It is the second-most in NFL history behind only Reggie White who had five. Watt has 15.5 sacks this season.

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WR DeAndre Hopkins passed the 1,500-receiving yards mark in 2018. Hopkins joins Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison and Brandon Marshall as the only receivers to record at least 100 receptions, 1,500 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in multiple seasons in NFL history.

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