HOUSTON – After signing a six-year, $100 million contract extension Tuesday, J.J. Watt said ‘the work only intensifies from here’ and judging from his performance Sunday afternoon in the Houston Texans’ 17-6 season opening win over the Washington Redskins, he certainly meant every word.
"It’s excitement," Watt said about what he felt after the game. "It feels really good to get a win. Gonna enjoy it here for a little bit, but at the end of the day you have to remember it’s just one win. Wins are extremely hard to come by in this league, but at the end of the day it’s just one win."
Ending a 14-game regular season losing streak that nearly dates back one calendar year, the Texans showcased their defensive power as Bill O’Brien began his NFL head coaching career with a 1-0 record.
"It feels good," O’Brien said about picking up his first win as head coach. "You know, it’s a long season. It’s one game. It was a good game, it was a good win, but it’s pretty quickly on to Oakland. Oakland is a very good football team, it’s in Oakland. I’ve been down that road before in the black hole and that’s not easy. We’ll enjoy it tonight but it’s moving quickly on to Oakland tomorrow."
Watt was seemingly all over the place on the field keeping Robert Griffin III and the Redskins off balance offensively with a blocked extra-point attempt, fumble recovery, two tackles, one sack for a loss of nine yards, and a trademark swatted pass. While the big game came after earning his record-setting contract, he says the deal didn’t factor into the impressive stats during Sunday’s win.
"I feel like it’s important to have a big game every week," Watt said. "That’s the absolute truth. I feel like I want to go out there every single week and put on a great performance for this team and I think as a whole, I’m only one guy, we have a whole team that played good today. Guys on the defense all over the place played good football."
While Watt has certainly proved his worth in entering his fourth season in the league, he wants to make sure there will be no questions about his work ethic with the contract extension that made him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.
"The goal is to always to be underpaid," Watt said. "You never want to be that guy that people say ‘he got money and shut down.’ So I want to go out there every single day, whether its practice, whether its workouts, whether its meeting rooms or game and prove that I’m worth it."
Watt wasn’t the only Texan that had a big day at NRG Stadium, defensive back D.J Swearinger forced a fumble and tallied six tackles, one which was his first-career sack.
"He’s an improved player," O’Brien said about Swearinger’s impact on the game. "I’ve said this all along about D.J. that he’s a passionate guy. He loves football. He doesn’t want to make a mistake, he wants to be good, he works extremely hard, he’s always out at practice."
The defense was the highlight of the win, but offensively, the Texans got the job done with their new quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick under center who went 14-for-22, throwing for 206 yards along with one 76-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins.
"Fitzpatrick, he took time in the pocket, he didn’t look too worried back there," Hopkins said about the touchdown, which was a career-long for him. "He’s a veteran quarterback, he knew we would have a good play downfield, he stood in the pocket and made a great throw."
Complementing the passing game, running back Arian Foster compiled his 26th career 100-plus yard game to keep the Redskins’ offense off the field. However, rookie running back Alfred Blue perhaps made the play of the game while on special teams in the second quarter coming up with a blocked punt against Redskins punter Tress Way, which he then picked up and returned for a touchdown to put the Texans up 14-6.
"Oh man, words can’t explain," Blue said about scoring his first touchdown as a pro. "All I was thinking about was getting that ball and getting into the end zone."
The Texans top overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney also made his much-anticipated regular season debut, but only was able to record one tackle before leaving the game with a knee injury before the end of the second quarter.
"I don’t know what happened on the field. I’m not sure what happened on that one. We’re consulting with doctors and trainers right now," O’Brien said. "I’m not sure about the status, but I will say right now that they think it’s a good prognosis so it looks like he’s going to be ok. He may miss some time, he may not. Who knows. We’ll know better as the week goes on."
The Texans start the season 1-0 for the fifth-straight year, improving their record in season openers to 8-5 all time. Houston heads on the road for two games, starting next Sunday in Oakland against the Raiders.