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J.J. Watt makes presence felt in return from torn pec

The Houston Texans looked like toast following a DeAndre Hopkins third-quarter fumble. Bill O'Brien's team laid an egg in the first half, was already down 13 points to the Buffalo Bills, and stared at a potential 20-point deficit.

The Bills sat at third-and-8 from the Texans' 12. Then J.J. Watt came streaking off the edge to sack Josh Allen and force a field-goal. The Texans went down by 16, but the play woke up a sleepy crowd and ignited the largest comeback victory in Houston playoff history, a 22-19 overtime win.

"That was a big play in the game because, you said it, the crowd really helped us in the fourth quarter there. The crowd was into it, J.J. got the crowd going," O'Brien said of Watt's sack.

Watt suffered a torn pectoral injury in October and returned from IR this week to much fanfare.

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year played just 16 of 36 plays in the first half, mostly on third downs and in the red zone. Trailing by double-digits, the Texans took the restrictor plate off in the second half. Watt played 34 of 44 plays in the final two quarters and overtime. His presence on the field made all the difference.

"It's incredible to be back out there with the guys," Watt said after the win. "That's why you do it. That's why you take the risk, that's why you put in the work, that's why you do the rehab. You do all of it for those moments, to be out there with the guys, to be part of the team, to try and help the team win, to try and create that spark. There are a lot of people that were questioning it or calling me crazy or telling me I shouldn't be doing what I'm doing. But nobody knows what those feelings feel like and nobody knows what it's like to be part of a group of guys like we have in that locker room. So quite frankly, I don't care what anybody else says. I did it for those moments right out there, and it was a hell of a feeling."

Watt generated a boatload of pressures on Allen, earned the key sack, added two QB hits and a tackle for loss.

His presence alone seemed to not only inspire the crowd, but also his fellow defenders. A Houston D that was gashed for the first 40 minutes of play finally got pressure on Allen and discombobulated the QB, helping aid the comeback.

"I think he made some really game-changing plays," O'Brien said. "He just changes the game by his presence in there. His talent, he draws a lot of attention relative to blocking schemes and things like that. He's a great player. I'm sure he'll critique himself better than anybody could relative to his film and what he watches, but it was great having him back in there."

Playing 50 of 80 plays, Watt added that he was surprised how well he held up considering how quickly he returned from the pec injury.

"I'm pretty shocked, I'm not going to lie," he said. "It feels pretty good. There was one play where he [Josh Allen] was rolling out, and I dove for him, and before I dove, I thought to myself, here it is: It's either going to hold, or it's going to go. I dove, landed right on it, popped up, kind of checked it out, looked over to the doctor who was standing like 10 feet away, and I was like, it's alright. Obviously, we kind of threw the plan out the window there in the fourth quarter and overtime because it's all hands on deck and do what you can. But I'm very pleased with the way it held up, and I'm very thankful to all the medical people and strength people that helped me get here."

Heading to the Divisional Round, the Texans need Watt to play a full slate of snaps if Houston is to hang with a much more potent offense next week -- either Kansas City or Baltimore, depending on the outcome of Saturday's late game between New England and Tennessee.

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