— Michael Brooke (@mbrooke_brooke) June 4, 2014
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in Houston Texans history. In the next two days, we’ll feature the "Rosencopter" and Billy Miller's touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in 2002 -- the franchise's first touchdown, which led to the franchise's first win. Please vote for your choice as the Texans' most memorable play.
Score: Texans 31, Bengals 10
Date: Jan. 7, 2012 Site: Reliant Stadium
People walk up to J.J. Watt and just call it "The Play."
With less than a minute remaining in the second quarter of the Texans' wild-card playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton dropped back and released the ball. Watt jumped in the air, intercepted the pass and ran it back for a touchdown to break a 10-10 tie. It was a watershed moment for that game, the franchise and the burgeoning career of their 2011 first-round pick.
The Texans shut out the Bengals in the second half and went on to notch their first playoff win in franchise history.
The momentum from that season carried into the 2012 season, which the Texans began 11-1. They fizzled late in 2012, though Watt remained a force.
The play was the start of something special for Watt. He played even better in the Texans' next game during the 2011 postseason despite the loss, sacking Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco 2.5 times. During the offseason that followed, Watt's then-defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, said he thought Watt would one day wind up in the Hall of Fame. The 2012 season marked one of the finest seasons any defensive end has ever had. It was doubly impressive considering Watt did it as an interior defensive lineman. Watt had 20.5 sacks (which led the league), 23 tackles for loss and 16 batted passes.