J.J. Watt, Houston Texans disrupting throwing lanes


The tipped pass never has been this popular.

Not in Houston, at least, where the Texans' defense has made deflecting throws a weekly habit during their 6-1 start.

In Sunday's emphatic 43-13 win over the Baltimore Ravens, the Texans tipped five Joe Flacco passes. Two of those led to interceptions and one to a touchdown.

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The engine behind this trend is defensive end J.J. Watt, whose 10 batted balls in seven starts already tops Calais Campbell's league-leading nine tips from a season ago. No defender has more than 10 tips in a season dating to 2008. Barring an alien invasion, that record is about to fall.

"They are big guys," Flacco told The Baltimore Sun. "Sometimes, they stop rushing the quarterback and they try to get their hands up. People asked me before the game: 'What are you guys going to do?' There's not really much you can do. They had a lot of batted balls. We have to take a look at it and see how we can maybe prevent it better."

Flacco, mind you, is 6-foot-6. This isn't Russell Wilson peering through gaps, but Texans pass rushers have been doing this to quarterbacks all season. Priority No. 1 in Houston is to heat-seek the quarterback, but when that doesn't work, priority No. 2 is to get your hands in the air.

Priority No. 2 resulted in two turnovers, including a game-altering pick six Sunday, reaffiriming Houston's dominance in the AFC.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.