JACKSONVILLE – The wait is over. At long last.
The Jaguars are in the postseason.
Quarterback Blake Bortles kept getting better and better, the defense kept dominating and the Jaguars kept rolling – right into the AFC playoffs with a 45-7 victory over the Houston Texans in front of sold-out crowd of 64,701 on a sun-drenched Sunday afternoon at EverBank Field.
The victory secured the Jaguars (10-4) at least a Wild Card playoff spot and assured the seventh playoff appearance in franchise history. They last made the playoffs in 2007.
The Jaguars have won seven of eight games, and can clinch their first AFC South title with a victory over San Francisco next Sunday if the Tennessee Titans lose either at San Francisco Sunday or at home to the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday.
The Texans slipped to 4-10.
Bortles continued the hottest streak of his four-year career, completing 21 of 29 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns. He threw three first-half touchdown passes, with two going to first-year wide receiver Jaydon Mickens and one to rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole. Bortles now has seven touchdowns and no interceptions in three December victories.
Bortles' 143.8 passer rating Sunday was a career high. He left the game early in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars led 31-0 at halftime, the largest halftime lead in franchise history. Jacksonville outgained Houston, 289-58, in the first half.
Cole had his first career 100-yard game by that point, and he finished with seven receptions for 186 yards and a touchdown.
The Jaguars played without rookie running back Leonard Fournette, who has rushed for a team-high 923 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Images form the Jaguars Week 15 matchup with the Houston Texans.
The Jaguars are 2-0 without Fournette. They beat the Colts 27-0 in Indianapolis on October 22 with Fournette out with an ankle injury and the Cincinnati Bengals 23-7 in Jacksonville two weeks later when he missed because of a rules infraction. The Jaguars rushed for 188 yards against the Colts without Fournette and 139 against Cincinnati.
The Jaguars registered four sacks Sunday, two by end Calais Campbell, one by tackle Malik Jackson and one by end Dante Fowler Jr.. The Jaguars sacked Texans quarterbacks 10 times in the regular-season opener.
The Jaguars outgained the Texans 464-186 and had 25 first downs to nine for Houston.
Step by step:
*The Jaguars took a 7-0 lead when fullback Tommy Bohanon capped their second possession with a one-yard dive on 3rd-and-goal from the 1 with 3:52 remaining in the first quarter. Bortles completed five of six passes for 48 yards on the 13-play, 78-yard drive. The Jaguars held a 118-2 total-yardage advantage and led 7-0 after the first quarter; that marked the ninth time in 14 games they had shut out an opponent in the first quarter.
*The Jaguars pushed the lead to 14-0 with Bortles' five-yard touchdown pass to Mickens, who reached over the goal line with 14:45 remaining. Mickens' 14-yard reception from Bortles on the ensuing possession capped a six-play, 63-yard drive and pushed the Jaguars' lead to 21-0 with 10:12 remaining in the half. The Jaguars then extended the lead to 31-0 at halftime with a 38-yard field goal by Josh Lambo – and a nine-yard pass from Bortles to Cole with :26 remaining in the half.
*The Texans cut into the Jaguars' lead with Yates throwing 25 yards to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins with 8:12 remaining in the third quarter; that made it 31-7, Jaguars. The Jaguars built the lead back to 38-7 three plays later with Bohanon's second 1-yard run of the game.
*Running back Corey Grant's five-yard touchdown run with 10:26 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Jaguars a 45-7 lead.
Notable: When Campbell sacked Yates in the third quarter, it gave him a team-high 14.5 sacks on the season. He sacked Texans quarterbacks four times in the regular-season opener. … When the Jaguars held the Texans scoreless on their first possession, it was the 12th time in 14 games this season the Jaguars' opponent hadn't scored on its first possession. The Jaguars' defense did not allow a point on their opponent's opening drive in seven games at EverBank Field this season. The Jaguars remain the only team in the NFL to not allow a touchdown on their opponent's first possession. …
Injury report: Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee left with an ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return. … Fowler left in the second quarter with a hamstring injury and returned … Safety Peyton Thompson left in the second quarter with a foot injury and returned before being ruled out with the injury in the fourth quarter. … In addition to Fournette, the Jaguars inactives Sunday were: Wide receiver Larry Pinkard (concussion), nose tackle Eli Ankou, offensive guard Chris Reed, offensive tackle Josh Walker, offensive tackle William Poehls and wide receiver Allen Hurns (ankle). … Veteran Chris Ivory started in place of Fournette. …
What's next: The Jaguars are scheduled to visit the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, Sunday, December 24 at 4:05 p.m. ET.