When you think of great Houston Texans plays, what’s the one that comes to mind first? What are the few seconds of gameplay that has become your mental snapshot of great Texans football? For some, maybe it’s the instant when the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboys to win their first regular season game. For others, maybe it’s the time Deshaun Watson spun out of ALL the tackles to keep the play alive in the 2019 postseason against the Buffalo Bills, allowing the team to win and advance to the AFC Divisional Round.
Or maybe you land somewhere in between those two points.
For me, I’ll never forget where I was standing, who I was watching with, and how I felt when J.J. Watt snatched the Andy Dalton pass out of the air at the line of scrimmage and ran it back for six points in the Texans’ first ever playoff game.
Having grown up watching Howie Long devastate opposing offensive lines, there was just something about Watt that I loved, something familiar I wasn’t able to put my finger on until Rich Gannon commented during a game how much Watt reminded him of a young Long. While a lot of people were panning the Watt selection back in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, I just knew there was something special there. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been way off base with that feeling before (and since!), but thankfully I wasn’t with Watt.
That Texans-Bengals playoff game was on TV as I stood watching with several Cowboys fans. All of them had been treating the Texans like the kid brother who couldn’t get by on his own. Most, but not all, of them were condescending about it to the point it wasn’t worth talking football with them. When the Texans were knotted up at 10 apiece with the Bengals and Andy Dalton was driving the Cincinnati offense down the field, they’d already written off the “poor little Texans” as another pretender who would never be a contender.
Then it happened.
Dalton released the pass. Watt leapt in the air and snatched it. Before anyone knew what was happening, J.J. was in the end zone, under a pile of his teammates celebrating the Texans’ first ever playoff pick-six.
While there are so many other memorable moments, this is the one that comes to mind when I think of great moments in Texans history.