I feel like there are a decent number of people off today as the Easter Weekend settles in, and because of that it's likely to be a slow news day. So we may as well keep on chugging along with our countdown of the Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2015.
The list so far:
Now for the most part, I'm not usually one to take pleasure in the misfortunes of others. I'm always happy to see someone who deserves to succeed succeed. So I hope you'll all forgive me if I take a moment to delight in someone laying an egg against the Patriots.
18. Otherwordly phenom and greatest player of all time J.J. Watt is held completely ineffective as the Patriots secure a playoff spot against the Houston Texans.
The Week 14 matchup between the Patriots and Texans featured something that nobody would have ever expected when the schedule first came out: New England had just lost at home to the Eagles. The lowly, terrible Philadelphia Eagles. Not only that, but the Philly game represented their second loss in a row, dropping them to 10-2 and giving them back-to-back losses for only the fifth time since 2003. So when they traveled to Houston for a Sunday Night game against the 6-6 Texans, fresh off a loss of their own, many saw it as a sort of crossroads game; if the Pats dropped this one, all of the injuries they had accrued thus far may finally be too much for even Belichick to overcome.
However, anything the Patriots may or may not have been doing leading up to this contest was more of a secondary storyline that warm December evening down in Houston, as the mighty J.J. Watt was in pads and ready to play. The mighty Watt, who moves mountains with his bare hands and wrestles bears just for the hell of it, was about to put his amazing skills on full display in front of the entire nation. We may have seen him on Hard Knocks, and we may have seen him on (lots of) commercials, but with Houston not getting too many nationally televised games in 2015, this was America's chance to see The Defensive Player of the Year line up and wreak havoc all over New England's porous offensive line.
Watt finished the day with three tackles.
Utilizing a series of bigger packages at 50+ yards on the ground from LeGarrette Blount, Watt, along with the entire Houston defense, was rendered more or less ineffective as the Patriots cruised to a 27-6 victory. Tommy B finished the day with 226 yards and two TDs, which aren't eye popping numbers but were more than enough to secure the win, as New England's defense held Bryan Hoyer to just 155 yards passing with no TDs. They also sacked him five times.
The Patriots had more sacks than Watt had tackles.
Almost as enjoyable as the victory was the excuse train that immediately fired up the second it became apparent that Watt wasn't going to be getting to Tommy B that day. His hand was broken. He wasn't at 100%. He couldn't get the push he normally gets due to the injury. And while Watt did indeed break his hand, anyone who is anyone knows that winners don't make excuses. They just show up and play.
With the win, the Patriots secured yet another playoff spot, and were just one victory away from once again clinching the AFC East. They moved ahead of the Broncos and Bengals with an inside track to the 1st overall seed and put two losses, one of which was highly embarrassing, behind them. They proved that injuries can't slow the team down forever. And at least for a little while, they were able to thoroughly, thoroughly stifle all of the J.J. Watt love. All that makes for a winning combination that I'm more than happy to put on this list.
Now let the record show that, despite the tone of this article, I'm actually a big fan of J.J. Watt. He's one of the best defensive linemen in the game, he's an absolute beast, and I would love to have him on the Patriots if the opportunity arose and the cap number made sense. He also seems like a great guy and someone who gives back to the community on a regular basis. My problem with Watt isn't even entirely his fault, to be honest; he's just another one of those talented athletes that the media sees as a cash cow, and so they simply beat us all over the head with him at every possible opportunity. Whether he's chopping wood, attending a charity auction, or simply warming up on the sidelines, there are cameras on him from every angle and sportscasters falling all over themselves trying to think up the best way to describe how amazing he is. And while Watt doesn't exactly take any steps whatsoever to direct that attention away from himself, it's not like he has a say in the media narrative, and he isn't going to turn down the money that comes with an endorsement deal. But still, it's always nice when the cameras are on Watt for the right reasons - he's playing in a football game - and he does jack squat against my team. Tough to spin that one, Collinsworth.
Game highlights here - you'll never guess who the NFL Network decided to lead off with!