The Texans’ defense held the Jacksonville Jaguars to just 37 yards of total offense in the first half, and 119 yards for the game as they won 20-3 to claim the American Football Conference South Division championship.
They finished with an 11-5 record and became the first team since 1992 to start the season 0-3 and win a division title. The Texans are the third seed in the AFC playoffs and will play Indianapolis at NRG Stadium on Saturday at 3:35 p.m.
“It (winning the division) means a lot. These guys have worked hard, especially the way we started out. It’s a testament to the players in that locker room. They’ve always hung tough, and to go from 0-3, then go 11-2 in this league, pretty tough to do. Give credit to the players,” Texans’ Head Coach Bill O’Brien said.
The Jaguars scored first on a Kai Forbath 25-yard field goal with 10:11 to go in the first quarter. The Jaguars had recovered a muffed punt on the Texans’ 10-yard line but had to settle for a field goal. Ka’imi Fairbairn tied the score with a 23-yard field goal with 5:23 to go in the first quarter.
On the first play of the second quarter, quarterback Deshaun Watson scored on a 5-yard run to give the Texans a 10-3 lead. With 7:28 to go in the second quarter, the Texans took over on their own 37 yard line. Using a combination of runs and short passes, the Texans moved the ball in eight plays to the 7 yard line, where Lamar Miller ran up the middle for a touchdown, giving the Texans a 17-3 lead at halftime.
“I saw a little crease. I was just trying to be decisive and just take advantage of the opportunity. I saw the corner right there, so I just tried to lower my shoulder and just tried to get in the end zone any way possible,” Miller said.
Fairbairn kicked a 24-yard field goal with 10:55 to go in the game to make the final score 20-3.
Watson completed 25 of 35 passes for 234 yards and rushed 13 times for 66 yards, becoming the first quarterback to record at least 4,000 passing yards, 25 passing touchdowns, 500 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns in a single season in NFL history.
“Of course, I want to throw it, but at the end of the day, if the ball is in my hands, I feel like I’m a play-maker. Every time I have the ball in my hands, which is every play, I feel like I’m the best player on the team. It is just my mentality, best player on the field. And, I’m not saying that in a cocky way, everybody should have that mentality when they step on that field. But, as we play, I just kind of make the best decision, try to move the chains and have something positive,” Watson said.
Miller had 17 rushes for 56 yards and one touchdown.
“It takes a whole unit to be able to run the ball. I think today we had some positive plays, but we can always find a way to get better and just keep this thing going,” Miller said.
DeAndre Hopkins caught 12 passes for 147 yards. The 12 receptions were a career high for Hopkins, and he finished the regular season with 115 receptions for 1,572 receiving yards (13.7 avg.) and 11 touchdowns, tying him with Andre Johnson (115 receptions in 2008) for the most receptions in a single season in franchise history.
“It’s awesome. Just to be around this guy (Hopkins), what he’s accomplished, the things we talk about. One thing that I appreciate about him is when he first came into the league, he asked me about things he needed to do to better his game. He took that to a whole other level. To see what he’s accomplished, what he’s doing out on the field, it’s amazing. I know I got a lot of smack about saying he’s arguably the best receiver in the NFL. I line him up against anybody in the NFL. He continues to do it week in and week out,” former Texan Andre Johnson said.
“It’s hard to defend Hop (Hopkins). Hop is a big guy, he’s got great hands, he’s the ultimate competitor on Sundays and he wants the ball. I mean, Hop breaks the huddle, and if a pass is called, he’s always got a better way to run that pass. He’s looking over at me as the play is being run, he wants to signal what route we should be running. The guy just wants the ball. He always wants the ball. He understands coverage. He’s a great football player, great player,” O’Brien said.
JJ Watt had 1.5 sacks in the game giving him an AFC-leading 16.0 sacks this season and a franchise-record 92.0 career sacks since entering the league in 2011 (104 games), which is the second-most in the NFL during that span.
“To come back from the injuries that he’s (Watt) come back from, like I’ve said six thousand times, what else can be said about the guy? He’s an incredible athlete, he’s got great character, great work ethic. I mean, to do what he’s done to come back, and people talk about the leg injury, but it was the back injury and the other things that he dealt with over the last three years, to be able to come back and play at that level, I mean, it’s hard to put that into words what he’s done. He’s done a great job,” O’Brien said.
The Texans beat the Colts 37-34 in overtime at Indianapolis in week 4, and the Colts beat the Texans 24-21 at NRG Stadium in week 14.