EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- They made it a lot harder than many
thought it would be -- and than it probably should've been -- but the
Houston Texans remained unbeaten with a 23-17 victory over the sinking
New York Jets on Monday night.
They can thank J.J. Watt for that.
leading candidate for defensive player of the year through the first
quarter of the season strengthened his case on national TV with a sack
of Mark Sanchez in the fourth quarter plus two tipped passes near the
goal line -- one of which resulted in an interception, the other an
incompletion instead of a touchdown to a wide-open Chaz Schilens in the
end zone. Then he tipped Sanchez's final pass and said "you can't throw
it over my head," which was caught by ESPN's camera.
five passes tipped by Texans defenders. Then, he had one go off the
hands of his own target Jeff Cumberland as he attempted a comeback drive
that began with 3:28 to play. Cornerback Kareem Jackson caught the
deflection for an interception that sealed what was a surprisingly close
Five minutes into this one, after Owen Daniels ran free
through a baffled Jets secondary for a 34-yard touchdown pass from Matt
Schaub, it looked to be the expected developing disaster for the Jets.
frankly, it had all of the elements: an interception by Sanchez late in
the first half and an 86-yard return to turn a could've-been touchdown
into a field goal for the Texans, a failed surprise onside kick in the
second half, the sparse crowd booing video of Sanchez's being drafted
shown on the big screen, the cheers for Tim Tebow and the dropped deep
ball from Tebow to Jason Hill which led Rex Ryan to exclaim, "Catch the
(choice word) ball!"
Add it all up and there would seem to be no
reason why the Jets would have the ball with 9:59 to play and a chance
to win the game.
But they did, and Watt saved the day with a sack
of Sanchez when he brought down the Jets quarterback simply by swiping
at his ankles. Last week, Ryan was gushing to reporters about Watt's
ability. Monday night, he was a lot less thrilled to be watching Watt
The only bit of bad news for the Texans is they lost
linebacker Brian Cushing to a left knee injury when Jets guard Matt
Slauson went low on him in the open field. Cushing limped to the locker
room and did not return.