NASHVILLE – When it comes to sacks and swats, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is now in a class by himself.
Watt had one sack and one pass defensed in the first half on Sunday at LP Field, giving him 15.5 sacks and 14 passses defensed this season. He is the first player in NFL history with at least 14 sacks and 14 passes defensed in a single season.
Watt added another batted pass in the second half, making him the first member of the 15-15 club. Five of Watt's tipped passes this season have been intercepted.
"Anytime you're the only person to ever do something, it's crazy, it's wild," Watt said. "But as I've said all along, if you want to be the greatest, if you want to be the best, you have to be willing to want to do things that have never been done before. This is one of those things, but all of the credit has to go to my teammates and coaches. I wouldn't be anywhere without them."
Watt now owns the NFL record for passes defensed by a defensive lineman in a season. He entered the game tied for the record with Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White, who had 13 passes defensed in 1991.
"I knew going into today that I had a chance at Reggie White's record for batted balls, and growing up idolizing Reggie White — growing up in Wisconsin as a Packers fan — to break his record is almost incomprehensible," Watt said. "I almost can't put into words. It means a lot to me. It's special, but there is a lot left to play, and I'm really excited about where I'm headed. Hopefully, I break my own record."
White had 15 sacks and 13 passes defensed in 1991. Cleveland Browns linebacker Jamir Miller had 13 sacks and 14 passes defensed in 2001. No other player in NFL history besides Watt had 13 sacks and 13 passes defensed in a single season since passes defensed were tracked officially starting in 1991.
"It's off the charts," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said of Watt's season. "I think we are looking at a guy that is as good of a defensive player that I have seen on the field and continues to do it every week. (He was) a little sick this week and missed some time and goes out there and plays the way he plays. He's leading the way."
Said defensive end Antonio Smith, making a unique reference to Watt's "Mega Watt" nickname: "He is continuing on the legacy of the Great Mega. This is the year of the Mega. Nothing is going to stop him from doing great things. He just has the glow right now, sublime glow."