In many ways, amidst the sadness of the passing of Texans' founder Bob McNair, Monday night was a magical evening, a tremendous football story of a team putting together its most impressive performance of the season in a tricky spot against an ironic opponent, the franchise that vacated Houston and, in essence, paved a small part of the way for McNair to bring NFL football back to Houston.
The stars for the Texans all showed up in a big way on Monday — Deshaun Watson's throwing two touchdown passes, and running for one more, Lamar Miller's rushing for 162 yards, DeAndre Hopkins with several big catches, even newly acquired Demaryius Thomas' chipping in on the receiving end of the Watson TD tosses.
And then, there is J.J. Watt, perhaps the most iconic and certainly the most revered player in the history of McNair's franchise. All Watt did was record nine tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and provide constant chaos in the Titans' pocket on Monday night. If Monday were a storybook or a film, this morning, we got a bonus epilogue chapter, with the league's awarding Watt with the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award for Week 12.
It's the seventh time in his career that Watt's been recognized as such, which is way fewer than I thought there would be, but I guess when you miss nearly two full seasons due to injury, volume numbers can get skewed a bit in your head. For active players, that ties Watt with Julius Peppers for the most career Defensive Player of the Week Awards. (Some more perspective on Watt's greatness — Peppers was drafted in 2002. Watt was drafted in 2011...and missed nearly two full seasons.)
More on the award courtesy of the Texans Public Relations staff:
Watt now has an AFC-leading 11.5 sacks this season, which also ranks tied for second in the NFL. He has recorded at least 1.0 sack in four consecutive games for the seventh time in his career (also did it in Weeks 3-6 this season), which is the most streaks of four consecutive games with a sack in the NFL since 2011. Watt has joined Von Miller and Chandler Jones as the only players to record five seasons with 10.0-or-more sacks since 2011.
Watt has 87.5 sacks since entering the league in 2011, which is the second-most in the NFL during that span. He is currently tied with Leonard Little (87.5) for 49th on the all-time sack list and has the second-most through a player’s first 99 games of their NFL career, trailing only Reggie White (103.0). He is also the NFL’s all-time leader in sacks per game with an average of 0.88. Additionally, Watt owns the third-most sacks through Week 12 of a season in franchise history (11.5), trailing his own records in 2012 (14.5) and 2015 (13.5).
Watt has recorded more sacks against the Titans than any other opponent in his career (17.0) and the most sacks against the Titans by any opponent since 1982. He also registered his career-high fifth forced fumble of the season and the 20th of his NFL career (2011-18). He is tied for the most forced fumbles in the NFL this season and the fifth-most in the NFL since 2011.
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Watt's ability (and his teammates' abilities) to rush the passer and stop the run will be put to a solid test over the next two games, as Cleveland and Indianapolis, the Texans' next two opponents, are the best teams in the month of November when it comes to keeping their quarterbacks clean:
QUARTERBACK HITS ALLOWED IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER:— Johnny Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) November 27, 2018
NE, NYG: 14
CIN, DEN, HOU, SF: 15
ARI, CAR, JAX: 16
BUF, CHI, LAR: 18
LAC, TEN: 25
DAL, WAS: 27
NYJ, TB: 28
DET, OAK: 31
The Texans look for their ninth win in a row this Sunday at NRG Stadium against the Cleveland Browns. Kickoff is at noon local time.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.