HOUSTON, Texas – They fought and scraped.
What the Jaguars couldn't do on Sunday was score – at least not enough – and that kept them from playing the spoiler in the 2018 regular-season finale.
With quarterback Blake Bortles starting for the first time since Week 12, the Jaguars' offense continued its late-season struggles and the Houston Texans pulled away from the Jaguars for a 20-3 victory Sunday afternoon in front of an announced 71,841 at NRG Stadium.
The Texans (11-5) clinched their third AFC South title in four seasons. The Jaguars (5-11), last season's AFC South champions, lost 10 of their last 12 games.
The Texans pulled away from a 3-3 tie with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns – a five-yard run by quarterback Deshaun Watson and a seven-yard run by running back Lamar Miller.
The Jaguars, starting their eighth offensive-line combination of the season and with starting running back Leonard Fournette out with a foot/ankle issue, finished with 119 total yards. They had 37 offensive yards and one first down at halftime, when they trailed 17-3.
Bortles, starting after backing up Cody Kessler for four consecutive games before replacing Kessler in the second half of a victory over Miami last week, completed 15 of 28 passes for 107 yards and no touchdowns with an interception. He rushed four times for 15 yards and was sacked twice.
The Jaguars allowed 21 sacks in the last five games.
Watson completed 25 of 35 passes for 234 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. He rushed 12 times for 67 yards.
Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins finished with 12 receptions for 147 yards.
The Jaguars registered six sacks Sunday, with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, defensive end Calais Campbell and defensive tackle Malik Jackson all getting one and a half, rookie defensive lineman Taven Bryan contributing one and linebacker Myles Jack adding a half.
Campbell finished with 10.5 sacks for the season and became the first player in franchise history with double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons. He had a franchise-record 14.5 sacks last season.
Step by step:
*Kai Forbath's 25-yard field goal gave the Jaguars a 3-0 lead with 10:08 remaining in the first quarter; the score was set up when Jaguars rookie wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. forced a muffed a 51-yard punt that linebacker Blair Brown recovered at the Texans 9. The Texans tied it 3-3 on the ensuing series when Ka'imi Fairbairn converted a 23-yard field goal with 5:20 remaining in the first quarter; the Jaguars held Watson to a one-yard gain on 2nd-and-goal from the 2 and no gain on 3rd-and-goal from the 1 before a false start on fourth down prompted the Texans to opt for a field goal.
*Watson's five-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter gave the Texans a 10-3 lead; the play capped a drive that began at the Jaguars 49 when second-year wide receiver Dede Westbrook muffed a punt that linebacker Zach Cunningham recovered. Miller's seven-yard touchdown run with 3:01 remaining in the half gave the Texans a 17-3 lead; Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack had a pass from Watson bounce from his hands on the play before Miller's touchdown.
*The teams went scoreless in the third quarter, which ended with the Texans having outgained the Jaguars 225-76 for the game at that point.
*Fairbairn's 24-yard field goal with 10:52 remaining in the game pushed the Texans' lead to 20-3. A late drive in Texans territory ended when Texans safety Andre Hal intercepted Bortles in the Texans end zone.
Notable:When Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone won a challenge on the Texans' first-quarter muffed punt, it marked the seventh time he has won on his eight replay challenge attempts this season. … Fournette was among seven players inactive for the Jaguars Sunday. The team also deactivated quarterback Tanner Lee, wide receiver Rashad Greene Sr., cornerback A.J. Bouye (toe), nose tackle Eli Ankou, running back Dimitri Flowers and cornerback Breon Borders; the team signed Lee and Flowers from the practice squad Friday while Bouye sustained a toe injury against the Miami Dolphins last week.
Injury report: Jaguars tight end Ben Koyack sustained a hand injury in the second quarter and right guard A.J. Cann left the game in the fourth quarter with a finger injury.