J.J. Watt

George, J.J. Watt among many sending Hayward wishes after gruesome injury

George, J.J. Watt among many sending Hayward wishes after gruesome injury

Gordon Hayward suffered one of the more disturbing pro sports injuries in recent memory. Those who have had similar luck were quick to send their well wishes. 

Hayward could be seen looking at his left leg/ankle in horror after crashing to the floor following an alley-oop attempt in the first quarter of Tuesday’s season opener in Cleveland. Paul George, who in 2014 broke his leg in gruesome fashion during a Team USA showcase, tweeted his prayers for Hayward in the moments after the injury. 

MORE:

J.J. Watt, who is out for the season again after he suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg in Week 5, also tweeted his support. 

In addition to George and Watt, a cast of Hayward’s peers voiced their thoughts for him. So too did Hayward's former team. 

Texans' title chances take devastating hit: Watt, Mercilus out for year

cp-texans-mercilus-watt-100917x.jpg

Texans' title chances take devastating hit: Watt, Mercilus out for year

The Texans suffered a pair of devastating injuries on Sunday night that could wind up ruining their chances at contending in the AFC.

During a 42-34 loss to the Chiefs, J.J. Watt suffered a season-ending tibial plateau fracture in the first quarter. He left the game and was eventually taken to the hospital. Whitney Mercilus was injured earlier in the first quarter, suffering a torn pectoral muscle that ended his season.

"I think that is tough, but at the end of the day that is not an excuse," Texans coach Bill O’Brien said after the game. "We have to do better in all three phases. Look, I thought we competed until the end and the next guys are going to have to step up and play. 

"We have to do a good job of coaching and scheming, but that is the National Football League. Guys get hurt and the next guy in the team meeting room at that position needs to step up."

The reality is, though -- and this isn't news to O'Brien -- "the next guys" in this case are not going to be the game-changers that Watt and Mercilus have been. 

Watt is arguably the best defensive player of this generation, having won three Defensive Player of the Year awards (2012, 2014, 2015). Mercilus was a Second-Team All-Pro last season and made up a three-headed pass-rushing monster in Houston alongside Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. 

Having both Watt and Mercilus in the mix with Clowney and linebacker Bernardrick McKinney is what made the Texans defense one of the most dangerous units in the league. Before the Patriots and Texans matched up in Week 3, we took a deep dive into why the sheer number of pass-rushers Houston possessed was such a problem

"I mean, they have too many good players so it’s hard to help," Bill Belichick said before the game. "If you help one, then you’re light on the others. If you help one of the others, then it’s tough. That’s what makes them so good, is they get a lot of those matchups and you can’t help. 

"Like I said, too many guys so the guys that get singled are productive and they make plays. They make plays for a loss. They make plays in the running game. They make plays in the passing game and they make plays in pursuit."

With Watt and Mercilus unavailable, the Texans will lean heavily on Clowney and McKinney to provide pressure while defensive lineman Christian Covington and linebacker Brennan Scarlett, in all likelihood, see more playing time. 

Houston made it to the Divisional Round without Watt last season, and they gave the Patriots offense fits at Gillette Stadium. But to make any noise in January without both Watt and Mercilus, the Texans will need rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson -- one of the best stories in the league through five weeks -- to continue to surpass expectations by leaps and bounds. And even that may not be enough.

Five takeaways from Patriots-Texans: Brady does Brady things in last-minute comeback

Five takeaways from Patriots-Texans: Brady does Brady things in last-minute comeback

FOXBORO -- Here are five quick-hitting takeaways from what transpired in the Patriots' last-second 36-33 victory over the Texans:

1) Tom Brady doing Tom Brady things . . . again. After the two-minute warning, Brady marched the Patriots 85 yards for the go-ahead score -- a 25-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks in the front corner of the end zone. A two-point conversion to Cooks made the score 36-33 with just 23 seconds remaining. On the drive, Brady was surgical, finding Rob Gronkowski for 15 yards, Cooks for 18, and Danny Amendola for 27. He was also strip-sacked on the drive, but David Andrews corraled it and Brady found Cooks for the score three plays later. 

MORE PATRIOTS/TEXANS

2) Brady says he doesn't often feel sore anymore, but Monday might be a different story. The Patriots quarterback was knocked around early and often by the Texans front, including on his first pass of the game. Despite a jarring hit from linebacker Bernardrick McKinney, Brady found Cooks for a long gain down the right sideline. Brady was sacked five times (including three strip sacks) and hit on multiple other occasions. JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney and Christian Covington all got a piece of Brady at one point or another. The Texans pass-rush came in as advertised. When Brady did get some time, he found receivers down the field. Brady had six completions of 20 yards or more, including long touchdowns of 47 and 42 yards to Chris Hogan and Brandin Cooks, respectively. He threw for five touchdowns in all, giving him 27 regular-season games with at least four touchdowns, third-most all-time behind Peyton Manning (35) and Drew Brees (31).

3) Rob Gronkowski looked just fine after last week's scare in New Orleans. One of the bright spots for New England's offense was that their All-Pro tight end had yet another strong performance despite dealing with a groin injury. He caught 8 passes for 89 yards, and several of those yards came after contact thanks to broken tackles. Gronkowski also boxed out safety Corey Moore for a touchdown at the goal line.

4 )Deshaun Watson put his toughness on display throughout the course of the game. The rookie quarterback hit on throws despite taking hits from the Patriots on a consistent basis. He hit tight end Ryan Griffin on three passes -- two for key first downs and one for a touchdown in the third quarter -- despite absorbing contact as he threw or immediately after. He also pulled a Houdini act late in the fourth quarter to allude multiple Patriots defenders and hit running back D'Onta Foreman for a 34-yard gain. Watson's  accuracy is still an issue at times; he had Braxton Miller open on third down and plenty of time to throw with a little over seven minutes left in the game, but he missed him badly. Still, what Watson showed in terms of his toughness and athleticism was impressive.

5) Gilmore gets his first pick as a member of the Patriots, but it was an up-and-down day for the corner who's one of the 10 most highly-paid corners in the league. Gilmore gave away 34 yards on a pass-interference penalty in the first quarter that got the Texans into Patriots territory and helped lead to a field goal. Midway through the second quarter, Gilmore picked up another costly flag as he hit DeAndre Hopkins near the sideline and was hit with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness call that helped lead to another Texans field goal. In the third quarter, Gilmore left the game briefly as he was dehydrated.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE