HOUSTON – This slow start stayed slow. Real slow.
The result? One of the Jaguars’ least-inspired performances of the season, this one coming in the 2015 regular-season finale.
With the offense stagnant throughout, and the defense pretty much the same, the Jaguars fell behind the playoff-bound Houston Texans early and never responded in a 30-6 loss Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston.
The Jaguars after trailing by 17 points at halftime, cut the lead to 20-6 with a 34-yard field goal by rookie kicker Jason Myers with :34 remaining in the third quarter. That field goal was set up by cornerback Davon House’s interception return to the Texans 13.
Texans defensive end Whitney Mercilus had 3.5 sacks and defensive end J.J. Watt had three, and Watt’s sack/fumble that was recovered by Mercilus at the Texans 25 with 9:13 remaining ended the Jaguars’ best chance at a rally. Houston led, 20-6, at the time. The Texans finished with eight sacks.
Nick Novak’s third field goal of the game – a 51-yarder – capped the ensuing series and gave the Texans a 17-point lead with 3:24 remaining. Cornerback Kareem Jackson’s 27-yard interception return on the ensuing series pushed the lead to 24.
The Texans (9-7), after starting the season 1-4, clinched a third AFC South title in five seasons.
The Jaguars (5-11), eliminated from the AFC South chase last Sunday, lost their third consecutive game to end the season. They lost five of their final six games after being 4-6 after back-to-back victories over Baltimore and Tennessee.
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles completed 17 of 32 passes for 239 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions while Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer completed 25 of 40 passes for 249 yards and one touchdown with one interception.
Bortles finished the season with 4,428 yards passing, setting a franchise record for passing yards in a season. He also with an NFL-high 18 interceptions.
The Jaguars committed three turnovers Sunday.
Texans running back Alfred Blue finished with 102 yards rushing on 21 carries.
The Jaguars’ recent trend of slow starts continued Sunday, with the Texans outgaining the Jaguars 225-93 while taking a 20-3 halftime lead. The Jaguars scored one offensive touchdown in their last four games.
The Texans took a 3-0 lead on their second possession with a 28-yard field goal by Novak. That capped a 47-yard, eight-play drive. The Texans then extended the lead with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Hoyer to fullback Jonathan Grimes.
Gameday images from the Jaguars Week 17 showdown with the Texans.
Grimes’ touchdown ended a 10-play, 79-yard drive. Houston had outgained the Jaguars 112-15 at that point.
Myers’ 43-yard field goal on the ensuing drive made it 10-3, Texans, with 10:13 remaining in the second quarter. Bortles keyed the drive by avoiding a sack, scrambling then throwing to wide receiver Allen Robinson for a 36-yard gain to the Texans 31.
A key turnover by the Jaguars’ offense helped the Texans pull away.
First, Watt recovered a fumble by Jaguars running back Denard Robinson at the Jaguars 42. An easy three-yard run up the middle six plays later by Grimes made it 17-3, Texans with 5:29 remaining in the half.
Novak’s 51-yard field goal with :03 remaining in the half extended the Texans’ lead to 17.
Player of the game
Allen Robinson, wide receiver. The Jaguars struggled offensively and defensive, but Robinson finished his breakout second season strong, catching five passes for 108 yards. His 16-yard reception in the third quarter moved him past Jimmy Smith’s 1,324 in 1997 for third on the team’s all-time single-season receiving yards list. Robinson finished the season with 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, and also finished the season with 31 receptions of 20 yards or more, the most in the NFL this season and the most in franchise history. …
The Jaguars’ offense started and finished slow, failing to score a touchdown for the first time this season and finishing with 215 total yards. The offense managed just four first-half first downs, with 55 of their 93 yards coming on their lone scoring drive of the half.
The Jaguars’ 225 first-half yards allowed included 76 rushing. They finished the game allowing 402 total yards.
Jason Myers continued his strong finish to his rookie season, converting both of his field-goal attempts – from 43 and 34 yards. He converted 26 of 30 field goals this season and 32 of 39 extra points. He converted his last 13 field goals of the season.
Setting the scene at NRG Stadium in Houston as the Jaguars prepare to face the Texans.
*Tight end Julius Thomas sustained an arm injury in the second quarter and returned; cornerback Peyton Thompson sustained a second-quarter foot injury and did not return.
*Jaguars wide receiver Neal Sterling sustained a concussion in the first half and did not return.
*Jaguars right tackle Jermey Parnell missed his first game of the season with a hamstring injury. Sam Young made his first start of the season in place of Parnell. …
*Running back T.J. Yeldon (knee) missed a third consecutive start to end the season and weak side linebacker Telvin Smith missed a second consecutive start. Denard Robinson made a third consecutive start at running back and Hayes Pullard made a second consecutive start at linebacker. …
*Also inactive for the Jaguars Sunday: cornerback Demetrius McCray, defensive end Chris Smith, tight end Nic Jacobs and wide receiver Bryan Walters. …
*Jaguars tackle Luke Joeckel struggled throughout, allowing two sacks to Mercilus and two to Watt. He also allowed two pressures, and Watt’s sack/fumble that was recovered for a game-clinching turnover with 9:16 remaining in the fourth quarter came against Joeckel. Joeckel also had a holding penalty in the fourth quarter. Right tackle Sam Young, starting for Parnell, allowed an early sack to Watt. …
*House defensed a pass in the second half. That gave him 22 passes defensed for the season, setting a franchise record. House also had a third-quarter interception, his team-high fourth interception of the season. …
*Denard Robinson fumbled for a fourth time in three games. His first-half fumble Sunday was the first of those four recovered by the opponent.