Dec 28, 2014 6:58 PM
Watt leads Texans to 23-17 win over Jaguars
The Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) J.J. Watt's record-setting season wasn't quite enough to get the Houston Texans to the playoffs.
Watt had three sacks, a safety and a forced fumble to strengthen his case for MVP and 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.
"I wasn't ready for it to end, that's for sure," Watt said.
Andre Johnson had a season-high 134 yards receiving and a touchdown for Houston, which made a seven-game improvement over last season's 2-14 record under first-year coach Bill O'Brien.
"These guys have a lot of be proud of," O'Brien said. "But at the end of the day you can't leave it up to somebody else. You've got to control your own fate."
Johnson gave Houston a 21-17 lead with an 8-yard reception early in the fourth quarter. Watt made it 23-17 when he sacked Blake Bortles in the end zone a few minutes later. The sack gave him 20 1/2 this season, making him the first player in NFL history with two seasons with 20 or more sacks. He also had 20 1/2 when he won Defensive Player of the Year in 2012.
Watt finished the season with 29 tackles for loss and 50 quarterback hits, which both lead the NFL.
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 the Texans defense.
Watt danced 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."
"It's pretty special," Watt said. "As an athlete, that's one of the coolest things of all time, to have a stadium do a chant for you."
Watt is looking to become the first defensive player to win MVP since Lawrence Taylor in 1986. The winner will be announced Jan. 31.
Johnson did a bit of campaigning for his teammate to win the award after the game.
"If he doesn't win the MVP," Johnson said, "the NFL is out of their mind."
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. The second was on a trick play one snap after a fumble recovery.
"I think that our team showed a lot," Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley said. "We're encouraged by the mentality and the effort but not by the results."
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.
Chris Clemons sacked Keenum and forced a fumble midway through the third. 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.
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 late in the first quarter.
NOTES: Jacksonville DT Sen'Derrick Marks was on crutches after the game and Bradley said he'll have an MRI on Monday. ... Alfred Blue filled in after Foster was injured and finished with 39 yards rushing and a touchdown.
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