Tampa Bay Sports Day

NFL: Jaguars Return to the Post Season for First Time Since 2007

JACKSONVILLE – QB Blake Bortles completed 21 of 29 passes for 326 yards and three scores as the Jaguars are headed back to the playoffs for the first time in 10 years after defeating Houston 45-7 before a standing room only crowd of 64,701 in the final regular season home game of the 2017 season.

“It’s unbelievable,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan said. “To win it and win it the way we did today, mind-blowing. I’m really grateful and proud of the players, the football leadership and the fans — especially the last two games. They have given us the energy to put it over the top. It’s been awesome.”

Bortles three TD passes, two to Jaydon Mickens and one one to Keelan Cole.

“That’s why I practice,” Mickens said. “I don’t just do punt returns at practice, I have to do everything. It was something that I knew I could do. It was something that a lot of people knew I could do, but it just came out today.”

Fullback Tommy Bohanon, who led the AFC in Pro Bowl voting for the fullback position, scored on one-yard runs in the first and third quarters.

“Everybody knows the history of the organization,” Bortles said. “To be able to say that we were a part of the group that kind of changed the culture and changed the narrative about the Jaguars is special. I think it’s a never-ending battle. You do it one week or you do it for a couple weeks or for one season. It’s something we have to find a way to make consistent on a weekly basis and on a yearly basis.”

Josh Lambo made a 38-yard field goal and is 17 of 18 this season.

Defensively Barry Church intercepted Texans QB T.J. Yates in the second quarter, the 2oth pick by the Jaguars in 2017 and the 31st takeaway of the season for Jacksonville. The Jaguars’ 31 takeaways are the most in the NFL this season and a franchise record.

Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell had two sacks to push his franchise-record season total to 14 1/2.

“We want to have a standard every time we touch the field,” Campbell said. “It’s a certain standard we expect. When we eliminate our mistakes and stay focused, we’re a tough team to beat.”

The Jaguars continue to lead the NFL in a number of defensive categories, including points allowed per game (14.9), passing yards allowed per game (168.9), sacks (51) and forced fumbles (17). The Jaguars rank second in interceptions (19), third in yards allowed per game (284.1) and fourth in fumble recoveries (10).

“Nobody can drive on us,” Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “Nobody can get in the red zone on us and score. We feel that way and that’s what the stats say. That is what we’ll go out there and continue to have.”

Houston managed just 186 total yards. The Texans scored when receiver DeAndre Hopkins caught a 25-yard touchdown.

Jaguars rookie RB Leonard Fournette was inactive due to a quad injury. The fourth overall pick in the draft has carried 231 times for 923 yards with eight touchdowns this season

The Jaguars fly to the west coast next week as they face the San Francisco 49ers at 4:05 p.m. ET on Christmas Eve.

GAME NOTES: The Jaguars defense forced a punt on the Texans’ opening offensive possession and have now held opponents scoreless on their opening offensive possession in 12 of 14 games this season…..Jacksonville registered four sacks of Texans QB T.J. YateL….The Jaguars’ 31 first half points were the most in the team’s regular season history, and the Jaguars’ 31-point lead at halftime was their largest first half scoring margin in the team’s regular season history…Doug Marrone is 11-5 during his tenure as the head coach of the Jaguars, including a 1-1 record as the interim head coach in 2016…The stadium was over-capacity for the victory over the Texans, as standing room only tickets were sold for the game.