HOUSTON – The NFL has named Houston Texans OLB Whitney Mercilus the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for December. It is the first time in Mercilus' career he has won the award and 13th time a Houston Texan has been named Player of the Month in franchise history. Mercilus compiled 17 tackles (10 solo), 5.5 sacks for 23.5 yards, seven quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and one pass defensed in five games. He posted at least one sack in three of the five games and a quarterback hit in four of the five.
Against the Jaguars in Week 17, Mercilus had five tackles (three solo), 3.5 sacks, three quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He became the first player in franchise history and the fifth player in the NFL since 1982 to post two games with 3.5-or-more sacks in a season. It was also his third multiple-sack game of the season and the eighth of his career.
During the month, Mercilus passed Antonio Smith (27.0) for the third-most career sacks in Texans history and eclipsed the 10.0-sack mark for the year for the first time in his career. He finished the year with 50 tackles (32 solo), 12.0 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 14 tackles for loss, two passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. His sack and tackles for loss totals set single-season career highs, while he tied his personal-best for total tackles. Mercilus finished the regular season tied for sixth in the NFL in sacks and tied Mario Williams (12.0 in 2008) for the fifth-most sacks in a season in franchise history.
Houston's defense finished the year third in the NFL in yards allowed per game (310.2), third in pass yards allowed per game (210.4), fifth in sacks (franchise-record 45.0), tied for third in passes defensed (90), and tied for seventh in points allowed per game (19.6). Houston closed the season going 7-2 in their last nine games and allowed an-NFL best 12.7 points and 263.0 net yards per game in that span.
Check out the snapshots from the Week 17 matchup between the Texans and Jaguars.