• Brian L. Barefield

THE CHAMPS ARE HERE The Texans defeat the Jags to win the AFC South Division

Muhammad Ali, who was one of the greatest boxers to ever live once uttered a phrase that was heard throughout the boxing world and in homes all across the country. “The champ is here,” he said with the confidence of an individual who just knew that he would not lose. I am certain that’s how the Houston Texans felt in the last game of the regular season with the AFC South divisional title on the line. Houston defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars by a score of 20 – 3 in front of a home crowd of over 71, 000 who celebrated the victory with them.

”Finally, finally, it comes after the last game. That tells you how serious this league is and how tough it is to win the game after the last game for us to win the division this year. A total effort by our guys to go 0-3. We kept our composure, we kept fighting and we willed our way back into the AFC South division to win it, and I’m happy. My hats off to this team, and the staff,” said LB/DE Jadeveon Clowney who also ended the regular season by registering his 53rd tackle for loss since 2016 and is one of four players with more than 50 tackles for loss since the start of the 2016 season, joining Chandler Jones, Aaron Donald and Cameron Jordan.

Houston started out slow but picked up the pace some as they led the Jags (17 -3) at the half of the crucial must win to secure a home playoff game. After the first quarter both teams looked stagnant and two costly mistakes got the Jags on the board and also wiped out a 4th and goal from the one-yard line.

Texans return man DeAndre Carter muffed a punt that was recovered at the Jags 10-yard line. Jacksonville would kick a field goal to put them up 3-0 over the Texans. Houston would respond with a 10-play 69-yard drive that would only yield a Ka’imi Fairbarin 23-yard FG. That drive was stalled after RB Lamar Miller committed a false start penalty on a 4th and goal from the one -yard line. On the very next series, Deshaun Watson found the end-zone on a 5-yard run to give Houston a lead they would never relinquish. Watson seemed to have found something he liked in the running game as he was the Texans leading rusher (13 carries/66 yards) on Sunday.

“I'm just out there playing football, just trying to help the team be successful instead of talking in the backfield,” said Watson whose Sunday’s rushing yards gave him the most rushing yards (551) and rushing touchdowns (five) by a quarterback in a single season in franchise history.

Any athlete will tell you that luck plays a major part in any sport and Houston must have had a four-leaf clover on the side line. In the 2nd quarter, QB Deshaun Watson threw a pass that should have been intercepted by Jags LB Myles Jack but bounced right into the arms of WR DeAndre Hopkins (12 catches/147 yards) for a 13-yard gain. That catch would lead to a Lamar Miller 7-yard touchdown to seal the game for the Texans as the defense didn’t allow any more points.

“If we could hold every team to a total of 119 yards, I think that would be pretty good. It just comes down to us doing our jobs,” J.J Watt told the media after becoming the AFC league leader in sacks with 16.

Houston will now face their divisional rival, Indianapolis Colts who stopped the Texans 9-game winning streak in week 14. It will be considered the rubber match as the teams split the season series at one a piece. One thing the Colts will need to do before they step one foot inside of NRG Stadium is realize that they are facing the CHAMPS!

Kickoff is at 3:35 pm.

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