The Texans defensive end had three deflected passes in nine games this season heading into Sunday. He had a career-best four against Cam Newton.
One of those came on third-and-four from the Houston 24 with 1:20 remaining and the Patriots trying to tie the game. It denied Newton a chance for a completion to N'Keal Harry.
“He’s J.J. Watt,” Newton said, with a chuckle. “He’s an All-Pro, perennial All-Pro. He’s a defensive player of the year, one of the best players in this generation. So for us, it is what it is. They get paid, too. So for us to go against that, I’m not saying we fold up the tent, but at the same time, they’re going to make plays just like we’re going to make plays, and we just can’t get bent out of shape when that happens.”
Watt made only two tackles, including one for loss, and had no sacks, but his four pass breakups were huge.
Last year, Watt had three deflections in eight games, and he had four in 16 games in 2018. Watt had 16 in 2012 and 10 in 2014, the only two times he has had double-digit pass breakups in a season.
Watt was asked if it was fun “being able to swat down all those passes like you used to do all the time back in the day?”
“Yeah, I still do it. Just did today,” he said.