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Dec 28, 2014 4:38 PM

Watt helps Texans to 23-17 win over Jaguars

The Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) J.J. Watt strengthened his case for MVP and helped the Houston Texans finish off a winning, if not a playoff, season.

Watt had three sacks, a safety and forced a fumble Sunday, and Andre Johnson had a season-high 134 yards receiving and a touchdown to lead the Texans to a 23-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

The Texans (9-7) had a shot at making the playoffs, but Baltimore beat Cleveland 20-10 to claim the final AFC wild-card spot. Houston made a seven-game improvement over last season's 2-14 record under first-year coach Bill O'Brien.

Johnson gave Houston a 21-17 lead with an 8-yard reception early in the fourth. Watt made it 23-17 when he sacked Blake Bortles in the end zone for a safety a few minutes later. The sack gave him 20 1/2 this season, making him the first player in NFL history to have two seasons with 20 or more sacks after he also had 20 1/2 when he won Defensive Player of the Year 2012.

The Jaguars (3-13) had a chance to take the lead late, but Cecil Shorts III was out of bounds on a catch on fourth down.

Bortles threw for 117 yards as he struggled to move the offense for most of the day under near-constant pressure from Watt and company.

Watt danced happily to the song "Turn Down For What" after returning to the sideline after his safety. The defensive end, who has scored five touchdowns this season, smiled as the sellout crowd chanted "MVP, MVP."

Watt is looking for become the first defensive player to win NFL Most Valuable Player since Lawrence Taylor did it in 1986. The winner will be announced by The Associated Press on Jan. 31.

Case Keenum threw for 250 yards with two touchdowns and an interception to win his second game since rejoining the Texans after being released in training camp.

Keenum was signed from the St. Louis practice squad two weeks ago after Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Tom Savage were injured with Ryan Mallett already out for the season.

The Jaguars' first touchdown came on an interception return and the second a play after a fumble recovery.

Houston was down by three when Keenum and Johnson connected four times for 43 yards on a drive capped by the 8-yard touchdown reception to put the Texans back on top 21-17 early in the fourth quarter.

Chris Clemons sacked Keenum and forced a fumble midway through the third quarter. Ryan Davis pounced on it, giving the Jaguars the ball at the Houston 23.

On the next play, Bortles threw a lateral to Shorts, who found Jordan Todman wide open for a 23-yard touchdown to put Jacksonville up 17-14.

A 51-yard field goal attempt by Jacksonville's Josh Scobee bounced off the left upright early in the third quarter.

Houston took an early lead when Arian Foster scored on a 10-yard reception on the first drive. But he injured his hamstring soon after that and didn't return. Scobee made a 53-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 in the first quarter.

Dwayne Gratz intercepted a pass deflected by DeAndre Hopkins and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown to give the Jaguars a 10-7 lead with about three minutes left in the first quarter. The Texans regained the lead when Alfred Blue scored on a 1-yard run midway through the second quarter to make it 14-10. Jacksonville defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks injured his knee on that play and didn't return.

Blue filled in after Foster was injured and finished with 39 yards rushing.


AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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