Jaguars thump Texans 45-7 for 1st playoff berth since 2007
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan waited until the final few minutes to start celebrating.
Had he uncorked the champagne when the game was essentially over, Khan would have been drinking by halftime.
Blake Bortles threw three touchdowns passes, including two to seldom-used backup Jaydon Mickens, and the Jaguars clinched a playoff spot with a 45-7 drubbing of AFC South rival Houston on Sunday. Jacksonville’s seventh victory in its last eight games locked up the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2007.
“It’s a story of perseverance,” Khan said.
Once the NFL’s poster child for futility and a punchline for potential relocation, the Jaguars (10-4) are now one of the league’s top turnarounds.
The injury-riddled Texans (4-10) have dropped four in a row and seven of eight.
“They can smell the playoffs,” Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins said. “You can tell that by the way they played. That’s what you play for: playoff football. You play this game to win the ultimate goal. When you don’t get there, what you did is not good.”
Bortles finished with a season-high 326 yards and the best QB rating (143.8) of his career. He did it without receivers Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee.
With Robinson (knee) on injured reserve, Hurns (ankle) inactive and Lee (ankle) in the locker room, Mickens and rookie Keelan Cole stepped up. Mickens caught four passes for 61 yards and two scores. Cole had seven receptions for a career-high 186 yards and a TD.
Mickens disclosed earlier this week that he slept in his car outside the facility at night to save money, not knowing how long he would remain in town.
Now, he and teammates will be getting playoff checks.
“It’s kind of cool that we solidified our spot,” Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “Now we can get over the giddiness of it. … It’s cool to be where we are, but we’re not done yet.”
That’s a huge change for Jacksonville, which was an NFL-worst 22-74 over the previous six years and widely considered more of a laughingstock than a postseason contender.