The enduring final image of J.J. Watt found the Texans star defensive end on the ground Saturday night, hobbled during an injury-plagued end to his epic season.
Now, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year is going to have the damage repaired after his groin muscle gave out on him while being blocked by Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher during a 30-0 playoff loss Saturday night.
Watt is scheduled to undergo groin surgery Tuesday after playing through the painful injury for the past several weeks. Despite the groin injury and a broken left hand that's still healing, Watt led the NFL with 17 1/2 sacks and was a unanimous All-Pro selection.
"Not so hot, but we'll get it taken care of and I'll be fine," Watt said Sunday morning as the Texans players cleaned out their lockers. "I'll have surgery on Tuesday, take it from there. I'll know exactly what it is when we get it looked at further, but I know for a fact we've got to fix something.
"It's something we've been dealing with for probably six or seven weeks now, and our training staff has done a great job of just getting me out there on the field so I could play. (Saturday) was kind of the breaking point. Lot of credit to our training staff, they've done an unbelievable job."
Watt toughed it out for the past several games. He's been listed on the injury report with the groin injury ever since days before the Texans' road loss to the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 6. Watt broke his left hand in practice prior to a Dec. 13 loss to the New England Patriots.
Watt still recorded four sacks during the final two weeks of the regular season, including three against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a regular-season finale after shedding a cast he'd worn for three games.
"Significant groin injury," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said Sunday of Watt.
Watt's body seemed to wear out against Kansas City as he was limited to an uncharacteristically low one tackle with zero sacks or quarterback hits. Watt led the NFL with 29 tackles for loss and 50 quarterback hits to go with 76 total tackles and three forced fumbles during the regular season.
"I won't ever make excuses," Watt said when asked how much the injuries affected his performance.
Watt said his broken left hand is healing nicely and won't require surgery.
"The hand is almost all the way done now," Watt said. "It's maybe a week or two away from being 100 percent again. It's definitely good enough to do almost every activity."
The punishment Watt's body suffered rivaled the emotional pain he felt from the Texans' unceremonious ouster from the postseason at the hands of the Chiefs.
The morning after the blowout loss, Watt was still downcast about the setback.
"It's going to hurt no matter what when you get knocked out of the playoffs," Watt said. "The goal in this league to win the championship. When you don't win a championship, it's a disappointment. Did we do some good things? Obviously, we turned it around from a crappy situation, but I'm not too big into that whole narrative of just look at what they did good.
"Quite frankly, it doesn't matter. It's about results. Yes, we want to win an AFC South division championship, but I'm not going to sit here and say I'm satisfied winning an AFC South division championship every year. I'm going to tell you the truth. I want to win a world championship. Until we do that, I'm never going to be satisfied."
--J.J. Watt is primed to pick up some more hardware and honors.
Should Watt repeat as Defensive Player of the Year, he would tie Hall of Fame outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor as the only three-time winners. Watt won the award in 2014 and 2012; Taylor earned the award in 1981, 1982 and 1986.
"It would be obviously an honor, but the goal is to win a world championship," Watt said. "Individual awards are great and I'm very much appreciative of them and I work my (butt) off for them, but I want to win as a team."
During an ill-fated red-zone play, Watt lined up at quarterback in the Wildcat and ran behind massive nose tackle Vince Wilfork. It failed as Watt was tackled for a loss by linebackers Josh Mauga and Derrick Johnson. Despite the groin injury and a broken left hand, the Texans decided to give the football to Watt while trailing 13-0.
"We were very confident in it," Watt said. "We thought it would work. They did a great job defending it. Those guys get paid, too, and I think they made a great play."
Watt apologized on social media to fans following the game, expressing disappointment about an embarrassing exit from the playoffs. He remained in an apologetic mood Sunday.
"I'm sorry I had to come out of the game," Watt said. "I'm sorry we couldn't bring you a championship. I'm sorry it ended the way it did. I feel like fans pour their heart and soul into this thing just like we do and so I feel like we've got to take accountability for the fact that we didn't accomplish our goal."
Watt got some moral support from a celebrity friend.
"The Terminator," action star, also known as former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, texted and Tweeted a video at Watt, telling him to "Get up. You'll be a champion next year." Watt and Schwarzenegger have hung out before in California.
"Yeah, he texted that to me earlier," Watt said. "We'd been talking a little bit after the game. He's a good friend of mine. He just wanted to pick us up a little bit. He's a good man, so I appreciate it."
REPORT CARD VS. CHIEFS
--Quarterback: F-minus -- Brian Hoyer had four interceptions and a total of five turnovers, completing 15 of 34 passes for 136 yards and zero touchdowns and had a 15.9 passer rating.
--Running back: C -- The Texans rushed for 114 yards on 25 carries, including 99 yards on 17 carries.
--Receiver: D -- The Texans didn't get open much and they dropped passes, including a potential touchdown pass dropped by tight end Ryan Griffin.
--Offensive line: D -- Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer was sacked three times.
--Defensive line: C -- The Texans allowed 141 rushing yards on 37 carries.
--Linebacker: B -- Middle linebacker Brian Cushing had 13 tackles and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus had three sacks.
--Secondary: D -- Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith completed 17 of 22 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 98.7 passer rating.
--Special teams: F -- They allowed a 106-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the first play of the game to Chiefs returner Knile Davis. They had zero punt return or kickoff return yards on three fair catches and seven touchbacks.