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J.J. Watt turns up the volume as Texans defense dominates Ravens

The Ravens had no answer for J.J. Watt and fellow lineman Jared Crick in their crucial game.

Between snaps Sunday afternoon, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt fired up the crowd and his teammates by dancing while the popular rap song, "Turn Down for What," blared on the stadium loudspeakers.

Watt even stayed loose by doing jumping jacks when the Ravens' offense was huddling.

The leading candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year still conserved enough energy to repeatedly hit Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco during the Texans' 25-13 victory at NRG Stadium.

Watt led the Texans with eight tackles, three for losses, and four quarterback hits. The two-time Pro Bowl selection also tackled Flacco to stop a two-point conversion attempt after a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Between Watt and fellow defensive lineman Jared Crick, the Texans thoroughly punished Flacco. Crick had five tackles, a sack and two quarterback hits.

Flacco was sacked twice and hit 10 times as he completed just 21 of 50 passes for 195 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions with a lowly 41.7 quarterback rating.

"I know at the end of the game, I felt him a little bit," Flacco said of Watt. "It felt like I was getting hit in the back every time I let go of a pass, but that's the name of the game. He's a good player. They created a lot of havoc and caused a lot of disruption."

Watt became even more dominant once right tackle Rick Wagner left the game with a foot injury in the fourth quarter. Watt was rarely blocked by rookie tackle James Hurst when he replaced Wagner. Still, it wasn't as if Wagner was stonewalling his former University of Wisconsin teammate before he got hurt.

Utilizing his power, strength and speed, Watt had his way with the Ravens' offensive line. Watt was a large factor in holding running back Justin Forsett to a season-low 19 rushing yards on 10 carries, an average of 1.9 yards per run.

"They're a physical football team, they're a tough football team, but we're no slouch ourselves," Watt said. "We're not going to let somebody come into our house and just try to walk all over us. I think that we did a great job. I think that they're going to continue to have success, but we played very well."

Watt, 6 feet 5, 290 pounds, picked Forsett up during a first-half run and slammed him to the ground for a 1-yard loss.

"Watt was disruptive," Forsett said. "The guys along with him did a good job of stopping us and executing and getting off the field on third down. I think that's what hurt us."

Watt is now up to 17.5 sacks heading into the final game of the regular season.

Although he's three sacks behind his career-high of 20.5 sacks in 2012 when he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Watt has had a big year. He has scored five touchdowns -- three on receptions, one on an interception return and one on a fumble recovery.

"I think he played great," Ravens left guard Kelechi Osemele said of Watt. "A lot of the plays he made were on account of him putting in that extra effort and finishing the play and making those extra effort plays. He has a lot of heart."

Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel created a strong pressure package, bringing blitzes when necessary and simply allowing Watt and Crick to do their thing in other situations with a four-man pass rush.

"Romeo is a proven coach, he's done it many, many years in this league at a very high level," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "We came out for 60 minutes, played physical against an offense that had really been playing very well and a great quarterback.

"We rushed the passer, we played good coverage. We stopped the run, for the most part. I just thought it was a [heck] of an effort by our defense."

Watt was at the forefront of the Texans' defensive success.

"Yeah, J.J. is always active, always flying around," said Ravens tight end Owen Daniels, Watt's former Texans teammate. "We knew they had a good defense. We didn't play up to our ability, obviously. It's not what you want to have happen at a crucial point of the season."

Flacco had a blunt answer for what happened against Watt and the Texans, saying the Ravens simply got their "[butt] kicked." No one would argue that point.

"That's a fair assessment," left tackle Eugene Monroe said. "That's what happened. We could have played much better."

awilson@baltsun.com

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