Marshawn Lynch probably thought he'd sapped some of the will out of the Houston Texans, having delivered one of those body blows that tend to linger like a bad meal. Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks just didn't count on the angry will of J.J. Watt.
For after Lynch ripped off a twisting, turning, refuse-to-go-down 43-yard run on first-and-16 from the Seahawks' own three-yard line — a could-have-been-back-breaking burst only finally stopped by a hustling Watt — the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year grabbed the game back.
Only to watch Texans quarterback Matt Schaub throw it away. Despite being powered to a 20-3 lead by Watt's fury, the Texans end up losing 23-20 in overtime. What a heartbreaker. What a waste.
Two plays after Lynch's run, Watt burst through the Seahawks line, brushing by right tackle Michael Bowie like he didn't exist and dropping No. 2 tailback Robert Turbin for a four-yard loss. Then on third-and-7, Antonio Smith and Watt turned Russell Wilson's pocket into dust and sacked the second-year quarterback.
When Watt got rolling, the Texans followed.
Suddenly, Lynch's unbelievable run meant nothing. The Seahawks were punting. And soon the Texans offense would be rolling.
In the wake of Watt's moment, his refusal to let the game get away, Schaub and the Co. put together back-to-back 90 and 80 yard touchdown drives. Suddenly, Arian Foster was catching passes out of the backfield again. Super-hyped defensive back Richard Sherman couldn't keep with Andre Johnson. Tight end Garrett Graham kept finding holes in Seattle's No. 1 ranked defense and tight end Owen Daniels laid out for a dirt-raising critical third down catch.
The Seahawks' 3-0 lead turned into a 14-3 deficit, seemingly as quick as a swat. By halftime, the Texans held a 20-3 advantage over the unbeaten, Super Bowl-touted Seahawks.
It had all started with Watt. No. 99's performance wasn't quite as over the top as some of his game-swinging takeovers last season. It wasn't as easy to see as that complete annihilation of the Miami Dolphins' offense in last season's opener for example. But it was no less effective. And it was arguably even more important.
By the end of the game, Watt would have blood running out of his nose and more pelts on his wall. The blood came out of the bridge of Watt's nose, down its nostrils and on the sides. At one point in the fourth quarter, Watt had two Texans trainers working on it as the Texans offense went to work.
Still, the real pain came on the final scoreboard.
When Watt got rolling, the Texans followed. There is Brian Cushing forcing a fumble with a well-planned and located hit on Lynch later in the first half, gift wrapping three more points for the Texans offense. Wade Phillips' Bulls On Parade defense was back, turning Reliant Stadium into a Sunday madhouse.
All led by that familiar man. All not enough.