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Tim Tebow finally sees the light: J.J. Watt & Arian Foster are the NFL's only true unique weapons

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Brian Cushing Jets
Brian Cushing took down Tim Tebow on this play, but before long he'd been the one down and out. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Arian Foster Jets
Arian Foster ran all over the New York Jets. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Brian Cushing Jets
Arian Foster Jets
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — As soon as Brian Cushing goes to the sidelines, Arian Foster is there. The all-world running back will get in the linebacker's face as the trainers and doctors crowd around, as the dreadful thought of a lost season is starting to set in.

When you're a football player, you know when it's bad. And Cushing knows this is bad. You don't shake off an injury like this, no matter how much you live and breathe football, no matter how much your life centers around being an NFL gladiator.

"I just let him know that we were going to get the win for him," Foster says later in the Texans' locker room.

 It's no stretch to say that Watt takes seven points off the board for the Jets and produces three for the Texans. This in a game Houston wins by six. 

The win is secured, but the Houston Texans are going to need to get many more wins as No. 56 sits. Dream seasons wait for no one — just ask Matt Schaub about that — and football can be the cruelest love of all.

For after the game, Cushing is the one greeting the Texans who played the second half without him. Only, he's doing it on crutches.

"To have him there waiting for us, excited for us even with what he's facing shows what this team is all about," linebacker Brooks Reed says. "We stand up for each other."

Even when the simple act of standing is a painful reminder of what's been personally lost.

Cushing celebrates the 23-17 Monday Night Football win over the New York Jets with his teammates because that's what a good teammate does. Then, Cushing is out of the visitors locker room at Met Life Stadium before the media gets in. Some things are too painful to talk about.

Brian Cushing without football is like a NASA scientist without a rocket. If Arian Foster is the NFL's ultimate renaissance man than Brian Cushing is the game's biggest throwback. He's only football, all the time, seemingly hell bent on getting another opportunity to split open his face and send blood streaming down it in the pursuit of making a play.

 It'd be like a pitcher showing up in the majors today and throwing as many complete games as Nolan Ryan. It's not supposed to happen like this anymore. Only with Foster, it is. 

These 5-0 Texans will miss some of that from Cushing, but this team will go on unbowed. They're too focused, too mentally tough and much too talented to let losing Cushing stop them from getting to New Orleans the first weekend of February.

This isn't to diminish the linebacker's impact. It's more of a reflection of how far the Texans have come as a franchise. The Texans don't play close to a complete game in the shadow of New York's skyscrapers. But they still win because they have the best player on offense and the best player on defense.

Foster rushes for 152 yards on 29 carries and makes the best catch you may see a tailback make all season. J.J. Watt gets another sack and tips three more passes — one of which results in a 86-yard interception return for cornerback Brice McCain and a six-point swing at the end of the first half, one of which swats down another touchdown in the red zone, forcing Mark Sanchez's offense to settle for a field goal.

It's no stretch to say that Watt takes seven points off the board for the Jets and produces three for the Texans. This in a game Houston wins by six.

He runs around the Jets' field, waging his finger back and forth Dikembe Mutombo style when it's over. Yes, Watt is bringing the shot block to football, one dominant game after another.

"You're not going to get a sack every play," Watt shrugs. "Knocking down passes gives you another way to make an impact. It's just another weapon."

Which is like calling a bazooka just another weapon. J.J. Watt isn't just taking away plays from opposing offenses, he's robbing quarterbacks of their mojo. Even Tim Tebow doesn't have enough good vibes to beat back No. 99.

The Dominators

Remember when Tebow was considered the most unique weapon in football? How times have changed.

It's fair to now wonder if these Texans don't have the most unique weapon on both defense and offense in the NFL. There's no other 3-4 end like J.J. Watt and there's no other tailback in the league like Arian Foster.

 Brian Cushing without football is like a NASA scientist without a rocket. If Foster is the NFL's ultimate renaissance man than Cushing is the game's biggest throwback.  

Foster is doing Barry Sanders-like things (go back and watch  46-yard, cut-back run again), only he's doing it in an era when running backs have become marginalized by all-mighty passing games and platoon systems. It'd be like a pitcher showing up in the majors today and throwing as many complete games as Nolan Ryan.

It's not supposed to happen like this anymore. Only with Foster, it is. He walks into the locker room after another 30-carry night, seemingly as fresh as can be. Only the white bandage on the back of his neck gives any clue of what he's just run through.

"He was exceptional," Texans coach Gary Kubiak says. "I really challenged him (heading into the game). He's what makes us go. He stepped up and rose to the challenge."

This Monday night brings back visions of Foster's playoff game in Baltimore, another dominant performance in a big-time road moment.

"We knew it was going to be a tough, physical game," Foster says. "I have a lot of respect for how Rex Ryan coaches that team."

The Jets coach arguably coaches his most imaginative game in New York. And still it doesn't matter. Not when the Texans have the most dangerous player on both sides of the ball.

Cushing knows it's special. That's why he stays to greet his teammates. And you can bet he won't be the only major athlete transfixed by these Texans in the weeks to come.

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