It's no secret that Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has been one of the NFL's best players this season.
Through 11 games, Watt has 14.5 sacks, a new franchise record, and 13 passes defensed, tied with Reggie White for the NFL single-season record for a defensive lineman. He has been so dominant that Andre Johnson said after the Texans' overtime victory on Thursday that Watt should be the NFL's MVP.
Watt had a career-high three sacks against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving. He also had two passes defensed, two additional quarterback hits and an additional tackle for loss.
"J.J. was incredible in the game," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Friday. "I don't have his stat line here, but it was just off the charts. And he tends to make the huge plays in the biggest situations of the game. If there's a better defensive player out there right now far as the year he's having for his team, it's gotta be off the charts, because this guy has been exceptional."
Watt has accounted for 48.3 percent of the Texans' 30 sacks this season. He has 10.5 more sacks than the Texans' next-closest player, defensive end Antonio Smith.
"Boy, he's just a great player," Kubiak said. "The thing that's amazing, usually guys are great pass rushers, or some guy's a big run stuffer inside. Guys have a specialty. But here's a guy playing a 5-technique, basically, in a 3-4 defense, and this guy's exceptional rushing the passer. He's gotta play the run as well as anybody I've been around."
Two of Watt's three sacks of Matthew Stafford on Thursday came in the fourth quarter. Both times, the Lions were in third down at the Houston 36-yard line, on the edge of field goal range in a tightly-contested game – until Watt dropped Stafford for loss to force a punt. Watt also had a quarterback hit and pass defensed in overtime.
In the Texans' overtime victory against Jacksonville on Sunday, Watt had a sack in the fourth quarter. He had one tackle for loss, two quarterback hits and one pass defensed in overtime.
That makes six tackles, three sacks, six quarterback hits, four tackles for loss and two passes defensed for Watt in the fourth quarter and overtime of the last two games.
"He's almost like having a great quarterback," Kubiak said. "When the game really, really is on the line, he's gonna play his best. His sacks yesterday late to push them back out of field goal range, he's just special, and he has been all year long."