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J.J. Watt: None of us expected to be 0-3

September 24, 2018

The Texans’ wretched performance in their 27-22 loss to the New York Giants at NRG Stadium must have been bittersweet for defensive end J.J. Watt.

Bitter because the Texans are 0-3 for the first time since 2008 after extending the NFL’s longest losing streak to nine games and allowing three touchdowns against the Giants, who scored only two in their first two games.

Sweet because Watt played his best game since 2015 when he was voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the third time. He sacked quarterback Eli Manning three times and recorded four tackles for loss.

“It’s good to finally end such a long drought and do it in that type of way, but personal stats don’t matter at all in a loss,” Watt said.

Watt knows the Texans could have pulled out a victory if the defense had been able to stop the Giants on what proved to be the decisive touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

With the Texans trailing 20-15, they allowed Manning to take the Giants 77 yards in nine plays, throwing 7-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard for what proved to be the winning score.

As for Watt, from the second quarter through fourth quarters, he made life miserable for Manning and the Giants’ offense. On one of his three sacks, he forced a fumble. Besides his four tackles for loss, Watt also shared two more tackles for loss when he helped corral rookie running back Saquon Barkley behind the line of scrimmage.

Watt’s performance was so dominant that he became the first player in league history to record at least eight tackles, three sacks, four tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and one forced fumble in two games.

But the Texans lost by five, coming on the heels of seven- and three-point defeats at New England and Tennessee.

After the game, Watt was honest — brutally honest — in his assessment of their record.

“Losing sucks, so you can never take anything good away from a loss,” he said. “I’m not going to give you some PC answer. It sucks. You’ve got to understand the situation you’re in and find a way to make it better.

“I mean you’re 0-3. It’s not a good place to be. None of us expected to be here. None of us want to be here.”

As Bill Parcells used to say, you are what your record says you are, and the Texans are winless going into their next game at Indianapolis.

As one of the leaders, Watt had a message for his teammates about their predicament.

“I told the guys, ‘We’re at the bottom, and you’ve got to find a way to claw your way out of the bottom,’” he said. “Obviously, you don’t expect anybody outside of the building to believe in you (and) rightfully so.”

Watt was asked why he believes in a team that has been such a disappointment in losing three games that were winnable?

“Because I’m on it,” he said. “What do you want me to do? You want me to give up? I’m not going to give up.

“I love these guys. Not believing is the worst thing you can do. What the hell would the point be if I didn’t believe? You’ve got to believe. You have no choice.

“There’s no simple solution. If I had the cure-all answer, I would give it to us.”

Watt’s performance was one of the few positive things the Texans had to offer. He got his first sack since the second game of the 2016 season when a back injury cost him the last 13 games. He missed the last 11 games last season because of a broken leg.

Watt registered his first multi-sack game since 2015.

“I said I’ve been knocking the rust off since the first half of the (New England) game, and it’s been going little by little,” he said. “Hopefully (it’ll) continues that way.”

Despite persistent pressure from Watt, Manning completed 25-of-29 for 297 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. His rating was 132.3.

On the game-winning touchdown pass to Shepard, Manning was 6-of-6 for 76 yards.

“I think a couple of weeks in a row, we had a chance at the end of the game to stop them and give our offense the ball back, and we didn’t do that,” Watt said. “And that’s on me. That’s on all of us.

“We seem to play really well in the middle. We need to start fast, and we need to finish stronger. We need to come up with a solution as to why and how we can get it going early and finish stronger.”

john.mcclain@chron.com

twitter.com/mcclain_on_nfl

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