HOUSTON — J.J. Watt was asked what it was like to play with two hands on Sunday after spending the past three games with a cast over his broken left hand.
"You tell me," Watt said with a laugh.
Watt was back to his old self on Sunday, leading a dominant defence that helped the Houston Texans to their first AFC South title since 2012.
Watt and Whitney Mercilus combined for 6 1/2 sacks and Jonathan Grimes scored twice to help the Texans to a 30-6 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Watt, playing without a cast for the first time since breaking his left hand Dec. 9, had three sacks, forced a fumble and recovered another one to help the Texans (9-7) to their third playoff berth and first since 2012.
"It was beautiful," Watt said. "I think for a little while there people started to forget so today was a little bit of a reminder what it’s like when I have both hands."
Mercilus tied a career high with 3 1/2 sacks and forced a fumble and recovered one on a day when Houston set a franchise record with eight sacks.
Blake Bortles threw for 239 yards with two interceptions for the Jaguars (5-11).
"It’s tough to end the year on a note like that," Bortles said. "I guess the good thing is that we have a lot of time to look at it and figure out how to fix it."
Watt, who had been slowed by wearing a club-like cast on his injured hand in recent weeks, got to work early, sacking Bortles on the third play of the game for an 8-yard loss. He got up after the sack, held his wrist and wiggled the fingers on his left hand to display that he wasn’t wearing a cast.
Watt, who leads the NFL with 17 1/2 sacks, had a little fun after a sack in the third quarter when he did basically every dance that’s been hot in the past year. He did the "whip", "nae nae", "dab" and finished by running off on the "da plug" twice.
"I’m just a big white guy trying to have some fun out there," Watt said. "I realize they’re very terrible … but I’m having some fun out there and if people don’t like it then they can do whatever sack dance they want when they get a sack in the NFL."
He forced a fumble with his third sack in the fourth quarter and it was recovered by Mercilus.
Watt joins Reggie White as the only players in NFL history to have three 15-sack years in their first five years in the NFL.
"If you are behind in the game, they can pin their ears back," Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley said. "That is one of the most talented rushers in the game for many years. He can be disruptive."
Grimes had a 12-yard touchdown reception and added a 3-yard rushing score in the second quarter to help Houston take a 20-3 lead by halftime. Kareem Jackson added a score on an interception return in the fourth quarter to pad the lead.
The win completes a remarkable turnaround for the Texans, who have used four quarterbacks this season, and bounced back after starting the season 2-5.
"We are not happy with just winning the AFC South," receiver DeAndre Hopkins said. "There are bigger goals ahead of us."
Brian Hoyer threw for 249 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his return after missing the past two games after his second concussion in less than a month.
Mercilus has a career-high 12 sacks this season and gives Houston two players with 10 or more sacks for the first time in franchise history.
Houston left tackle Duane Brown had to be carted off the field near the end of the first quarter after injuring his right knee. Chris Clark took over and they continued the drive, pushing the lead to 10-0 when Grimes grabbed his first career touchdown reception on a 12-yard pass early in the second quarter.
The Jaguars cut the lead to 10-3 on a 43-yard field goal later in the second.
Brian Cushing forced a fumble by Denard Robinson that Watt recovered to give Houston the ball at the Jacksonville 42. Hoyer fumbled on the next play, but Houston left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo grabbed it in the air and turned it into an 8-yard gain.
Akeem Hunt ran for 25 yards later in that drive and Grimes capped it with a 3-yard touchdown run to make it 17-3 with about six minutes left in the second quarter.
NOTES: Houston CB Johnathan Joseph had three passes defenced to set a career high with 21 this season. … Jaguars rookie Neal Sterling left in the first quarter after suffering a concussion. … Houston has a franchise-high 45 sacks this season.