Two 1-6 teams, toothless, all gums, gnawing on each other, in a vacant stadium, on a muggy day, playing a game of football because it is their job to play a game of football. Despite the setting, the emptiness, the drabness of it all, in between the huddles, dawdling at the line of scrimmage, television timeouts, there were occasional glints of the spectacular. Whether it was Anthony Weaver calling Cover 3 on third and seven, Deshaun Watson running through tackles, Lonnie Johnson Jr. starting a fight on a field goal attempt with Cam Robinson, even in the hollowest of games, football is still good. Football is still beautiful.
The play below exemplifies that beauty. It was was 3rd and 4. 6:29 left in the fourth quarter. J.J. Watt was a five technique, an outside shade on right tackle Jawaan Taylor (#75). Aside from a bull rush where Watt attacked Taylor’s outside half, extended, and ejected to create pressure, Watt’s day was fairly quiet. That is atypical for when he plays the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Off the ball, Watt extended his hands on a ghost-rip move, the staple of his pass rush repertoire at this stage of his career. Taylor’s punch is slightly off. His head and arms end up on Watt’s inside shoulder. He leaned into the rush. Still, with strength alone, Taylor was able to get through Watt and adjusted his rush wide. Usually pass rushes this deep don’t affect the quarterback. He climbs up. The ball is out. Jake Luton is a rookie sixth-round pick. He hasn’t suited up for a game this year. He climbs, but the ball is stuck. This opened the door for Watt to come all the way around the back side of the pocket. With one arm over his head, after discovering the monolith, Watt smashed the ball out of Luton’s hand. Sack. Jacksonville recovers the fumble. Jacksonville punts.
There’s nothing significant about the play itself. It’s a fine move, but it’s the type of rush that usually doesn’t affect the play. Luton just didn’t hear his alarm go off. His funeral was missing flowers because of his weighted blanket. What is significant is the number. Watt was selected by the Houston Texans with the 11th overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. 10 seasons and 120 games later, Watt finally picked up his 100th sack.
After the play, there was immediate cavorting. Brief jubilation. A return to the sideline. There were no roses. No game stoppages. Most fans didn’t know this milestone was imminent. Most didn’t know this was Sack #100 until the broadcast crew mentioned it. Afterwards, most didn’t think much of it all, except for it being kind of cute. 100. A nice, round number. Even J.J. didn’t seem to care much.
J.J. Watt on 100th career sack versus Jaguars: "Yeah I mean I've said it before, I appreciate the sentiment and everything, I probably should have done this 3 or 4 years ago. So it's not necessarily, you know, it's a big deal, but to me it's past due." pic.twitter.com/BzhYkejSUi— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) November 8, 2020
This milestone should have happened years ago, as Watt said, but a broken leg, back surgery, and a torn pectoral muscle took too many games from Watt. Yet as he said, this is a big deal. In a lost season for the Houston Texans, where there isn’t much to enjoy, with all eyes on the future, Watt playing very good football and staying healthy is one of the few blessings 2020 has brought to this franchise and to us, silly souls who still and will continue to spend our Sundays with our favorite football team, no matter how stormy these days are, no matter how bad the games themselves may make us feel.
Rather than toil in the misery, let’s open the curtains. Let’s hear the singing birds. Allow the light to jolt in. We’re ranking all 100 sacks from J.J. Watt’s career.
100. Houston v. Indianapolis 2011: Clean-Up v. Jeff Linkenbach
2011 was a long time ago. J.J. Watt cleaning up after a competent Brooks Reed edge rush is an impossible sentence for where we are now, way over here.
99.5. Houston v. Jacksonville 2012: T-E Stunt v. Guy Whimper
One of many.
98.5. Houston v. Minnesota 2012: Clean Up Christian Ponder
Week 16 2012 never happened. It doesn’t exist. Nothing good came from this.
97.5. Houston v. Baltimore 20202: Orlando Brown Blown Block
I guess he’s the read defender. This is why you maintain your pass rush lanes. That’s a tough, smart, dependable play P.J. Hall. You get two animal crackers after communion this week.
96.5. Houston v. Baltimore 2020: Ghost Rip v. Orlando Brown
Clunky pocket. Poor pocket presence. These two things combine to create a sack that should have never existed.
95.5. Houston v. Tennessee 2013: Long Arm v. Chance Warmack
Brutal hand to hand combat, exhausting fight to the death, nothing left to do but grab the skull and press down. A penalty negated this play, but it still counts as a sack. I’m sure Chance Warmack’s neck still hurts from this.
94.5. Houston v. Green Bay 2012: T.J. Lang Blown Block
Pass protection mix up gives J.J. a free path. I remember going for a walk before this game, skin melting off my bones, boiling exuberance. Then they were down 28-0 in like one quarter. This team, man. This team.
94. Houston v. Philadelphia 2014: Lane Johnson Blown Block
I never understood, and never will understand how Chip Kelly’s offense operated. It was just really fast, and that one Monday Night made the future seem imminent, but the future never actually arrived. No one blocks Watt. He even checks the orbit motion before the sack. John Simon is always forgotten.
93. Houston v. Philadelphia 2014: Lane Johnson Blown Block
I guess he’s the read defender.
92. Houston v. Detroit 2012: Brandon Pettigrew Blown Block
Watt gets lost as everyone blocks one gap down. I heard this summer this was going to be Brandon Pettigrew’s break out season.
91. Houston v. Tennessee 2015: Antonio Andrews Blown Block
Zach Mettenberger started ten games. His record as a starter was 0-10. Four of these starts came against Houston and J.J. Watt. This was his last game against Houston. By this point, he’s just so tired of it.
90. Houston v. Baltimore 2013: Swim v. Michael Oher
Punch, swim inside, against the blindside. That stupid book is why Houston traded two first round picks and a second round pick for Laremy Tunsil. I wish we had the real angle of this.
89. Houston v. Detroit 2012: Clean Up Matthew Stafford
A complete pass rush. Connor Barwin and Whitney Mercilus on the edge. Antonio Smith and Watt on the interior. Matthew Stafford is overwhelmed and can’t find Calvin Johnson lurching over Alan Ball. Barwin drops a kombucha on aisle ten. Watt comes in with a mop and bucket and soaks it all up.
88. Houston v. Kansas City 2014: Chase Down Alex Smith
There’s never been a Jadeveon Clowney rush that makes sense. Nothing is normal. An interior loop, a wide open look, an impossible miss. He’s a basketball player who clangs every dunk off the back of the rim. Watt doesn’t. He chases down Alex Smith. These were the days we were promised in 2014. These plays rarely materialized.
87. Houston v. Jacksonville 2014: Marcedes Lewis Blown Block
The most sacks Watt has in a game is three. He did this three times against Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
86. Houston v. Jacksonville 2014: Chase Down Blake Bortles
It’s the same play. This one is just more fun. A D.J. Swearinger blitz gives Watt a free rush.
85. Houston v. Green Bay 2012: Loop around T.J. Lang
Cross country looping. Wade Phillip’s audacity to assign Watt to go from one ‘B’ gap to the other, and, of course, he pulls it off.
84. Houston v. Pittsburgh 2014: Jab and Go v. Kelvin Beachum
Sometimes chips don’t work, and they actually hurt the offensive lineman. Kelvin Beachum and Le’Veon Bell show you how it’s done.
83. Houston v. Seattle 2013: Clean Up Russell Wilson
Our old friend Corzo used to write for this site. I don’t know what happened to him. He simply disappeared. He’s probably happy. Still watching the Texans. Still loving this play as much as he did back then, because at the end, Antonio Smith and Watt unleash their sack celebrations at the same time. He loved that.
82. Houston v. Miami 2015: Swim v. Jamil Douglas
I guess you still have to watch the Texans when they’re down 41-6, and even 41-0, because of Watt.
81. Houston v. Miami 2015: Swim v Jamil Douglas
It’s a similar play as before, except this time it’s better.
80. Houston v. Detroit 2012: Rip v. Gosder Cherilus
The only player Watt hates as much as Methenberger, is Gosder Cherilus. Watt has four sacks against him. Cherilus tripped him once. He said Clowney wasn’t going to recover from microfracture knee surgery. Every sack he has against him is deserved.
The perils of play action. Watt quickly bounces wide and bends around Cherilus to suffocate Stafford.
79.5. Houston v. Los Angeles (C) 2019: Rip v. Sam Tevi
79. Houston v. Jacksonville (C) 2019: Swim v. Michael Schofield
A good enough inside arm swim. Benardrick McKinney is the real star. I’m going to miss him. I wish he got more reps as an edge rusher in Houston. I was always a sucker for when New England used Dont’a Hightower like this.
78. Houston v. Jacksonville 2011: Chop v. Guy Whimper
Chop. Chop. It’s a 1980s karate movie montage before the big fight, this fight occurs in the backfield, when Watt mauls Blaine Gabbert. Look at what you did to my beautiful face.
77. Houston v. Jacksonville 2011: Rip v. Chance Warmack
Welcome to the NFL Chance Warmack. Watt doesn’t need help. Warmack doesn’t slide over to his gap. A sharp angle, a scythe slicing rip erupts this block, just slightly missing the ball. I forgot how shiny TITAN UP used to be. Everything dulls with time.
76. Houston v. Tennessee 2013: Jab and Go v. Austin Paztor
75. Houston v. Tennessee 2012: Long Arm v. Michael Otto
Long arm Michael Otto. Slide off the tight end. Lose your helmet in the process. People love that sort of thing. You gotta give the people what they want. You gotta give the people what they need. More than an athlete, a thespian, a cultural icon.
74. Houston v. Denver 2012: Bullrush v. Manuel Ramirez
A fine bullrush and leap off the block when the quarterback steps up, the difference is the quarterback is Peyton Manning. Always and forever, screw Peyton Manning.
73. Houston v. Tennessee 2013: Ghost Rip v. Byron Stingily
An easy rip against play action. It’s hilarious how bad the Titans’ offensive line was for so long as they tried masquerading as a physical football team.
72. Houston v. Washington 2014: Rip Bend v. Tyler Polumbus
I briefly remember calling Tyler Polumbus, Pissopher Polumbus during and after this game. That was rude. I’ve been saved. I take back every mean thing I’ve ever said.
71. Houston v. Baltimore 2014: Chop-Rip v. James Hurst
This is the only chop-rip sack Watt has in his career. You can’t look this up. I’m the only one with the data set.
70.5. Houston v. Atlanta 2015: Ghost Rip v. Ryan Schraeder
I like how Watt uses his back to press himself against the tackle, and bend around the edge to prevent the tackle from adjusting his course. He’s like some big white cat, covered in stains, used as both an ashtray and a napkin, coarsely rubbing against a leg.
69.5. Houston v. Indianapolis 2014: T-E Stunt v. Jonotthan Harrison
Jonotthan. An absolutely screwed up way to spell Johnathan.
68.5. Houston v. Oakland 2013: Jab & Go v. Tony Pashos
Watt reads the play action fake, then swings Tony Pashos, to go and snag Matt McGloin. As bad as you think 2020 is, nothing will get worse than 2013. Losing to McGloin. Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub fighting on the sideline. We’re getting a divorce. I’m keeping the diner. This screenshot is better than the sack itself.
67.5. Houston v. Jacksonville 2014: Ghost Rip v. Sam Young
The herking and jerking shakes Sam Young, opening an outside path. It’s a lovely limbo under the punch, and bend around the edge. Blake Bortles in a two toned color helmet is definitely, as the kids call it, a mood.
66.5. Houston v. Jacksonville 2016: Rip v. Sam Young
Watt is one of the greatest players in NFL history. The type of player who will be known forever, as long as things can be known. Sam Young isn’t. He’s still playing though. Good for him. You can catch him in Las Vegas whenever Trent Brown is injured.
65.5. Houston v. Jacksonville 2016: Ghost Rip v. Luke Joeckel
It’s like the sacks against Young, but this time it’s Luke Joeckel, who’s the captain of the All AFC South offensive line bust team, and his teammates are Chance Warmack, Xavier Su’a-Filo, and Jack Mewhort.
64.5. Houston v. New York (G) 2018: Ghost Rip v. Chad Wheeler
Watt had zero sacks through the first two games of the 2018 season. Then Houston played New York. Then Chad Wheeler came into his life. It’s an important to reminder to keep working, never stop, because eventually you’ll be rewarded.
63.5. Houston v. Washington 2018: Ghost Rip v. Morgan Moses
This is the first in a variety of sacks where Watt plays the horror movie monster. Big brass zipper sewn to his spine. Colt McCoy sees his demise. Combusting with terror. The door at the end of the hall is locked.
62.5. Houston v. New York (J) 2018: Swim v. Brian Winters
Rather than play the swamp monster, this time Watt is the werewolf. In this sequel Sam Darnold tosses the ball up into the void. It’s the little things.
61.5. Houston v. Atlanta 2019: Ghost Rip v. Kaleb McGary
Don’t google image hogtie.
60.5. Houston v. Buffalo 2012: Long Arm v. Kraig Urbik
The long arm is my favorite pass rush move. Spins, rips, bullrushes, edge bends, these are brash and enormous and right in your face. The long arm is subtle. It boils down to the simple fact you can reach farther with one arm extended, then with two. This is a great one. Watt grabs Kraig by his collar and jams hip up against the bathroom stall.
60. Houston v. Kansas City 2016: Edge Bend v. Mitchell Schwartz
This is a rare Watt jet rush sack. These rarely came to fruition. The arm stretched out from a boiling pit to snag Alex Smith is unraveled suspension bridge heroic.
59. Houston v. Indianapolis 2012: Long Arm v. Mike McGlynn
Five man front, five man rush. Watt is the ‘5’ and with Barwin the ‘9’, Watt gets a one v. one rush against Mike McGlynn. Wade was so good at getting him one v. one looks. It’s another long arm. This time he grabs and shoves the inside shoulder.
58. Houston v. Los Angeles (C) 2019: Ghost Rip v. Sam Tevi
Tevi tries to jump set Watt. Bad idea. He gets the business for attempting this.
57.5. Houston v. Tampa Bay 2011: Loop v. LeGarrette Blount
Watt dismantling LaGarrette Blount in the backfield after looping inside is cool, but every play from this game makes me sad now. I really don’t want to talk about this anymore.
56.5. Houston v. Dallas 2018: Interior Loop v. Zach Martin
Hardworking. Blue collar. Watt slants inside. Bends around the pocket. Ravishing, and slobbering, he grabs and holds onto to Dakary. Rides the bull.
55.5. Houston v. Indianapolis 2012: Bullrush v. Mike McGlynn
McGlynn is a svelte 302 pounds according to Pro Football Reference. Watt lifts him off the ground, slightly and gently, as if McGlynn is a wakeboarder barely creeping out of the water.
If you have $200 you can go to McGylnn’s offensive line camp, where he will teach how to not be able to block Watt.
55. Houston v. Tennessee 2018: Rip v. Jack Conklin
After wide ripping play after play after play, all set up for this rush, Watt stampedes into Conklin, rips inside, and pops Marcus Mariota. Bleeding from the mouth he falls into the alley. Christian Covington puts Marcus in the back of the van.
54. Houston v. Jacksonville 2011: Long Arm v. Guy Whimper
Shorts and shimmel. Methodical and technical. This is how you long arm. This is how you rip. Gabbert is red and insulated.
53. Houston v. Buffalo 2018: Bullrush v. Jordan Mills
In this same game Josh Allen managed to stiff arm Watt and get away. Watt bullrushes Mills, splits the guard, and leaps, taking down Allen, who makes a bad situation even worse.
52. Houston v. Denver 2018: T-E Stunt v. Elijah Wilkerson
An E-T loop. Watt stamps his foot, plants, and comes back outside of the guard shuffling over, going against the grain. Keenum joins Brian Hoyer, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and [NAME REDACTED], as Houston quarterbacks Watt has sacked.
51. Houston v. Jacksonville 2012: Rip v. Eugene Monroe
Monroe is the refrigerator you see at the end of the cul-de-sac. Cord duct taped to the side. Cardboard and marker. Take me. Stained, rusted and gory. Play action he pops up and spreads his legs. This isn’t a pass set.
50. Houston v. Tennessee 2018: Ghost Rip v. Jonnu Smith
This is a fight video where one combatant has no idea what he’s up against. His opponent is a black belt, he wears a tap out shirt under his petticoat, his favorite movie is Never Back Down. It’s the opening scene to Con Air. Smith actually holds his hands up to his chest like a boxer. Watt easily dismantles him and plays the ball. He doesn’t even look for the fumble. Unbuckling his helmet. Looking for the camera. Clowney is wailing.
49.5. Houston v. Tennessee 2015: Rip v. Jamon Meredith
Check out Whitney. He used to be an athlete. This is before the gray hair, velcro wallet, high white socks, and tucked in Life Is Good shirt.
49. Houston v. Miami 2012: Swim v. Jonathan Martin
Watt splits the sack with Smith, Smith is the real star of this rush. Viscous swim that beats the guard inside, and arrives before the center can steal the ‘A’ gap. The Texans haven’t had a real interior rusher since him. Pray for rain. Pray for Ross Blacklock.
48. Houston v. Carolina 2015: Chase Down Cam Newton
This is the best chase down sack of Watt’s career. I’ve never seen Newton take a hit like this.
47. Houston v. Indianapolis 2013: Swim v. Gosder Cherilus
Outside rushes, sets up inside moves. Cherilus over sets, turning the ‘B’ gap into a lap pool for Watt to swim through.
46. Houston v. Jacksonville 2014: Rip v. Toby Gerhart
Before Christian McCaffrey there was Toby Gerhart. Houston shows blitz. Jacksonville slides their protection right. It’s only a three man rush. It’s Gerhart v. Watt. At least Watt is nice about it. He plays the bullfighter instead of liquefying his bones.
45. Houston v. Kansas City 2016: Swim v. Mitchell Schwartz
Back when Madden was good, before it became an embarrassing thing to play, when you could pick the prices of hot dogs and soda pop, and move the Saints to San Antonio and name them the Gunslingers, and when Superstar mode was based around eugenics, before the season started you could play minicamp drills to gain attribute points for your players. This included dodging tennis balls, throwing the ball through hoops, chasing and tackling, and hitting R1 and L1 while running through blockers. That’s exactly what this is.
44. Houston v. Indianapolis 2018: Long Arm v. Denzelle Goode
More like, Denzelle not very Goode, am I right, or am I right?
43. Houston v. New York (J) 2018: Ghost Rip v. Brandon Shell
The four point stance is underrated. It really springs you off the ball, wild and outlandish, a pitbull, a real hellhound.
42. Houston v. Jacksonville 2020: Ghost Rip v. Jawaan Taylor
Sack #100. Stop the game. Place a tiara upon Watt’s head. Bathe him in roses. Let him choose between a giftcard for the seafood restaurant inside the gas station, or for the Outback Steakhouse at the outlet mall.
41. Houston v. New Orleans 2011: Inside Move v. Zach Strief
If he or she doesn’t remember what the All-22 looked like before it was in HD he or she is too young for you. I like how he raises his arms to keep the puny Brees from getting the ball away. A great interior rush. I miss this so much.
40. Houston v. Jacksonville 2012: Swim v. Uche Nwaneri
I feel bad for those previous offensive linemen. Guys like Nwaneri, Linkenbach, Lutui, Svitek, Young, Wheeler, and Monroe. This is evil. This is diabolical. Blocking Watt as a 4i with no help, no one to hear you scream. A two way go. Watt runs the pattern of the uroboros and eats his own tail, swimming inside then curling back around.
39. Houston v. Kansas City 2013: Rip v. Jeff Allen
I just love the setting of this sack. The clock has been moved backwards. It’s dark at 5:30. Houston trying to save its season. I don’t wait to go to work tomorrow. I wish I was dead. A punch and a rip inside against Jeff Allen, before he had raviolis in his belly button, before his jersey became a bib. And I love how Watt goes slip sliding up the pocket after he catches Smith from behind.
38. Houston v. New York (G) 2014: Jab & Go v. Justin Pugh
It’s for the best I’m a guitar player at the coffee shop instead of out on tour. I’d use the power of press for mentally ill endeavors. I’d call up Justin Pugh and ask him why he’s in a three point stance this play. What did you expect was going to happen?
37. Houston v. Jacksonville 2014: Ghost Rip v. Sam Young
The game is too easy. It’s time to turn the difficulty up. It’s time to pack the rocket ship up and move to a different planet.
36. Houston v. Tennessee 2014: E-T Stunt v. Michael Oher
The E-T stunt between Watt and Mercilus is cool. This is what a real pass rush looks like. What makes the play is how Watt hits Mettenberger’s elbow to play the ball. Tim Jamison is a hungry little hippo.
35. Houston v. New York (J) 2015: Rip v. Breno Giacomini
It’s unreal how Watt was able to do everything. A total and complete pass rusher. Interior: swims, both inside and outside arms, long arms, bullrushes, turning the pocket. Exterior: bend and rips, ghost rips, edge bends, inside moves that counter it all.
34.5. Houston v. Jacksonville 2018: Edge Bend v. Corey Robinson
I completely forgot about Corey Robinson. Week 17 Texans v. Jaguars football. Poor bastard. Watt runs right around Jacksonville’s seventh string offensive tackle.
33.5. Houston v. Tennessee 2011: Punch v. Jake Scott
This isn’t a punch. This is a detonation. A discombobulation of the skeleton. The shuffling of bones, connecting what was to something that shouldn’t, turning the body into a freak book entry.
32.5. Houston v. Tennessee 2012: Swim v. Leroy Harris
A beautiful swim. Watt waits for Harris to strike. Over the top. Using his arm to follow through and keep the guard off him.
31.5: Houston v. Oakland 2013: Swim v. Tony Pashos
Pashos just barely touches Watt. That’s what keeps this one from sniffing the top ten.
30.5. Houston v. Tennessee 2014: Swim v. Will Svitek
Death is inescapable. Every day we awake we are Zach Mettenberger, trying to outrun death, trying to outrun Watt, going left, falling deeper and deeper into the cave of our psyche, going right, until collapsing underneath the Earth.
29.5. Houston v. Tennessee 2015: Swim v. Joe Looney
Meth, not even once.
28.5. Houston v. New Orleans 2015: Ghost Rip v. Terron Armstead
Before Terron Armstead was Terron Armstead he played right tackle, for a Saints team that was mired by bad defenses, constantly wasting great offensive performances. Watt rips around Armstead, and even Zach Strief, hinging to protect the backside gap, can’t even help him out.
27.5. Houston v. New Orleans 2015: Swim v. Andrus Peat
A solemn clap after the sack. There’s nothing Andrus can do.
27. Houston v. Denver 2012: Swim v. Manuel Ramirez
Pay attention. Watch Watt’s head. He fakes the E-T stunt by flashing his head sideways. Ramirez pulls his punch back, steps backwards for the loop, only to realize instantly he’s been taken for a fool. After that it’s a swim and bend. Peyton in this garish orange is putrescent.
26. Houston v. Cincinnati 2015: Jab & Go v. Eric Winston
This is the Conklin rush but perfected. It doesn’t get better. Watt beats Eric Winston to the outside shoulder, who’s hunkered down for the apocalypse, the impending bullrush, a life spent surviving by foraging, pushing a shopping cart, only to be staring at his feet once Watt rips and ejects. Mmmmmmm Andy’s tears.
25. Houston v. New York (J) 2012: Swim v. Brandon Moore
THE SANCHIZE. KILL ME.
24. Houston v. New York (G) 2018: Swim v. Chad Wheeler
It’s hilarious how deep this pass set is. Only the great ones create situations like this.
23. Houston v. Indianapolis 2018: Ghost Rip v. Denzelle Goode
Beat Goode with a rip using your right arm, put your left hand in the honey pot. This is the highlight of Duke Ejiofor’s career.
22. Houston v. Indianapolis 2012: Swim v. Jeff Linkenbach
Copy and paste swim moves. From Linkebach to Ballard. Remember Vic Ballard? I remember. Do you remember? I remember.
21. Houston v. Indianapolis 2014: Edge Bend v. Gosder Cherilus
Seventeen beers. Doughnuts in the CVS parking lot. This is just showing off. He’s beaten Cherilus in every way possible. This time Watt just runs all the way around him.
20. Houston v. Kansas City 2015: Ghost Rip v. Jah Reid
Crazed warrior. Revenge is the purest emotion. Even with his head lopped off, boiling fury, carries him and his poleaxe deep into the quarterback.
19. Houston v. New York (G) 2018: Edge Bend v. Chad Wheeler
Watt and Wheeler both watch the football. Watt’s get off is a lighting strike. A big bang. The moment right after the creation of the universe. All mattered and energy ripped out of a single point of time and space.
18. Houston v. Tennessee 2020: Ty Sambrailo v. Ghost Rip
Taylor Lewan tore his ACL getting out wide on a screen pass. Second down was a run. Third down, Sambrailo’s second snap after replacing Lewan, he gets placed in an impossible situation. Watt beats him to his outside shoulder, casually rips, and plays the ball.
17. Houston v. Carolina 2019: Ghost Rip v. Taylor Moton
Recovering fumbles isn’t a skill. It’s luck. The ball bounces in weird ways. Unless you’re J.J. Watt. He’s the only player who’s turned recovering fumbles into a skill. Read the words.
16. Houston v. Indianapolis 2014: Swim v. Gosder Cherilus
Somewhere Andrew Luck is in a treehouse in South America, cradling his son, reading Dune for the 3,000th time, thinking about how beautiful life is, and then, out of nowhere, his shoulder starts to sting, his back begins to holler, his neck seizes up.
15. Houston v. Jacksonville 2016: Ghost Rip v. Luke Joeckel
This is like all the other ghost rips and rips against Sam Young, except this one is better, because this time Watt plays the ball, and that’s better, because the point of defense is to get the ball back, and the Texans do here.
14. Houston v. Indianapolis 2018: Swim v. Braden Smith
Party like it’s 2014. This is the last time Watt utilized a great swim on the interior to breed havoc.
13. Houston v. Jacksonville 2018: Edge Bend v. Corey Robinson
A jet rush against Corey Robinson. Wide, way out there, on the other side of the universe, Watt discovers something that is faster than the speed of light, rips around the chip, rips around Robinson, and taps the ball out. Unbuckling your helmet after the forced fumble is an ultimate symbol of disrespect.
12. Houston v. Cleveland 2014: Ghost Rip v. Mitchell Schwartz
This is the first really great ghost rip from Watt’s career. It’s the bridge from Watt’s pass rush in 2014 to 2018. Future days are built upon the past.
11. Houston v. Tennessee 2014: Swim v. Chance Warmack
But first, let me take a selife.
10. Houston v. Miami 2018: Ghost Rip. v. Ja’Wuan James
9. Houston v. Jacksonville 2014: Swim v. Luke Joeckel
Watt gets too deep up the pocket. He realizes this and quickly spins back inside and away from Joeckel. Watt rarely spins, this is the only spin sack of his career. I love this one not because of the spin, but because of how happy he is afterwards. Music video illuminati symbology in the endzone. I wish I could feel this way forever.
8. Houston v. New York (J) 2015: Long Arm v. D’Brickashaw Ferguson
Watt sacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and D’Brickashaw Ferguson on the same play. Two sacks at the same time.
7. Houston v. Tennessee 2015: Ghost Rip v. Jamon Meredith
I don’t know what Methenberger ever did to Watt. Were they enemies in a previous life? Is he purple and angry about some strigent ideal, a higher standard, of taking the game seriously? Does he hate the archetype of the southern rascal? I don’t know. But you’d think eventually, after this happening time and time again, Methenberger would finally learn to keep the ball close, or get it out and away.
6. Houston v. Tennessee 2012: Swim v. Duece Lutui
Lutui has the outside gap. Watt attacks the outisde shoulder. Despite this, even with help from the center, Watt is still able to get back outside, and chase after Jake Locker. Wounded and horrified, Locker is the baby gazel, ravenous and malificent, Watt is the big cat. Locker attempts and fails to make a big play on 4th and 1.
5. Houston v. Arizona 2013: Ghost Rip v. Bradley Sowell
This is sword fighting. Watt fakes the long arm, pulls it back, and with the same arm, he rips and bends around the pocket. From there he strips the ball from Carson Palmer, and of course, he recovers. Dammit, I really wanted Houston to win this game. This one hurt my feelings.
4. Houston v. Denver 2012: Swim v. Manuel Ramirez
This play isn’t about the swim, it isn’t about the move itself. It’s the plant. It’s the perpendicular plane he cuts off of. It’s splattering Peyton Manning across the windshield. We gotta get that cleaned next time we get gas.
3. Houston v. Indianapolis 2014: Chase Down Andrew Luck
My jaw has been sitting on the floor since 2014. I can’t get over this one. With a fingernail, a single fingernail, Watt is able to trip up, and take down that great soggy neckbearded malady.
2. Houston v. Tennessee 2014: Ghost Rip v. Will Svitek
This one has it all. The ghost rip. The pocket bend. The hand of god spanking the ball out of Locker’s hand, out running Tim Jamison, who has a head start, to recover the fumble, the scoop, a free run, the ability to turn impossibility into probably. He just can’t make that one man miss.
1. Houston v. Tennessee 2012: Swim v. Leroy Harris
It’s 2012. It’s the halcyon days. Watt as a ‘5’ one v. one against the left guard Leroy Harris—diabolical manufacturing from Wade Philips. He swims over the block, but it’s more than a swim. Harris doesn’t touch him. He whiffs entirely and completely. It’s like falling into a cholla patch and walking out without a needle in you. It’s an art museum heist. With a painting involving surreal geometric shapes under his arm, Watt envolopes Matt Hasselbeck, like a supernova, the dying of our sun.
There they all are. All 100. And here they all are, in a 15 minute film. Save it. Download it. Bookmark it. Send it to those you love, and even those you hate. Put it in a locket. Keep it close to your heart.
These plays are numbered. The past is more plentiful than the future. The road is coming to an end. As we all know, Watt’s career is waning, and he may only have eight more games left to play for Houston. From 2011 to now, J.J. has given us so much splendor, so many moments, so many sacks, blood and his sweat, as he’s carried this franchise with his hands, shoulders, and brawn. All on his own, for so many years. Now, it’s almost over.
This was supposed to be a celebration, and it was, but now, dammit, I’m just sad.