|J.J. Watt quiet vs. Patriots, but reminds that Texans still control AFC playoff race||12.11.12 at 1:34 am ET|
FOXBORO — Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt entered Foxboro as one of the more feared defensive players in the NFL, and had his name tossed around very early as a defensive player of the year candidate. He leads the league in passes batted down with 15, and has 16.5 sacks on the year with three games left to play.
But on the Monday Night Football stage, Watt went silent against right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, posting just four total tackles (two solo, two assisted) and a forced fumble that actually hurt the Texans when it resulted in a Brandon Lloyd touchdown.
Though he wasn’t a no-show on Monday, by the time his presence was felt, the Patriots had such a commanding lead that his play wasn’t the game-changer it usually is.
“We played a very good football team and they executed everything very well and had a great game plan,” Watt said after the 42-14 Patriots win. “They came in and played a great game, and we didn’t play a great game, and they won.”
The forced fumble occurred at the start of the fourth quarter when the Patriots already held a 28-7 lead. Brady completed a dump pass to Danny Woodhead on a second down and 10. Woodhead scrambled for 16 yards before Watt caught up to him and punched the ball loose.
The bounce the ball took was fitting for the Texans’ night, as Lloyd easily fell it several yards past the goal line.
“A play like that is just tough luck,” Watt said. “I came from the back side and forced a fumble and they get a touchdown out of it. Just a tough night.”
The Patriots now sit a single game behind the Texans in the AFC standings with three games left in the regular season. Both Denver and New England have records of 10-3, while Houston is 11-2. And the Pats have the tiebreaker against both teams.
Watt said that, with two games left against the (now) 9-4 Colts, the focus is more on winning the division more so than taking the top seed in the conference. There are now three teams that could viably win the AFC and receive a first-round bye plus home field advantage.
“We’re 11-2 and we still control our destiny,” he said. “We control everything. We are going to go back and focus on winning the division and locking that up. Everything is in front of us.”
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