Star defensive end J.J. Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg on the first drive. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Watt is out for the season and will be placed on injured reserve.
The Texans pass rusher was helped off the field limping and taken to the sideline medical tent before being carted to the locker room. He was later seen on crutches getting into an ambulance.
This is the second consecutive year that Watt was been ruled out for the year before Houston's bye. The All-Pro missed 13 games last season with a back injury.
"I don't have a ton of information on it, but I feel terrible for the guy," Houston coach Bill O'Brien said after the game. "With that being said, knowing him and knowing the type of guy he is, he's an amazing human being, he's an amazing human being' and he will work extremely hard to be back, to be back to play for his football team. I know that."
Alongside Jadeveon Clowney, Watt and Mercilus made up one of, if not, the league's most feared pass-rushing triumvirates. Though he did not register a sack in his first four games of the season, Watt led all Houston defenders entering Sunday night in total pressures (11) and pressure percentage (9.7 percent); Mercilus was fourth with three pressures.
In a non-football sense, Watt's loss is almost more devastating. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey's devastation on Houston, Watt's amazing fundraising effort, raising more than $37 million for relief efforts, reignited hope in the city and lifted spirits across the country. A team and community leader, Watt means more to this franchise than as just one of the greatest pass-rushers in football history.
It is a great shame that one of the league's transcendent talents and one of its great ambassadors won't be able to finish out a campaign, on a playoff contender no less, for the second straight season.