J.J. Watt hails from Pewaukee, Wisc., a town of perhaps 12,000 people. After a successful collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin in his backyard, Watt is a rookie adjusting to life down south in the city of Houston. I suppose it’s safe to say he’s living up to the adage that everything’s bigger in Texas. Watt, a first-round draft pick out of Wisconsin, came up with the biggest play of the Texans’ very first playoff game ever on Saturday, intercepting an Andy Dalton pass and returning it for a touchdown late in the second quarter. The big play — where the lineman made an unbelievable catch — gave the Texans the lead for good and pushed them into the next round where the Baltimore Ravens are waiting.
J.J. Watt joined WSSP in Milwaukee with Bill Michaels to discuss what the interception felt like as it happened, what it’s like in the city of Houston following the Texans’ first ever playoff win this past weekend, a possible Super Bowl matchup between his Texans and the Packers who he grew up cheering for as a Wisconsin native, the challenge of facing Baltimore this coming weekend in the AFC Divisional Round, getting a little revenge against Andy Dalton who led TCU past his Badgers in last year’s Rose Bowl, becoming a recognizable player and living out a childhood dream.
When you made the interception, what was it like? Was it as if it were slow motion?:
“No. I wish I could tell you it was. It was coming pretty hard. It all happened in such a blur; it was pretty wild.”
What’s it like in Houston right now, where the Texans just won their first playoff game?:
“It’s unbelievable. The fans, just walking around the city … and seeing so many Texans shirts, Texans hats, everything. The city’s going crazy. You can’t go anywhere without stopping for a picture or autograph. It’s really a special time down here and you can feel it.”
You’re from Wisconsin. Are you thinking about a Texans/Packers Super Bowl?:
“You could see that down the line. We’re just taking it one game at a time down here. We’ve got a very good opponent this week in Baltimore. We’re excited about that challenge.”
How big a challenge are the Baltimore Ravens?:
“They’re a very good football team; they have a very good defense. But we think we have a very good defense. We’re going to go up there. We’re going to put together a good gameplan and have a good week of practice this week. We’re excited about our meetings and our practices. And then we’re just going to go up there and go to work.”
On exacting some revenge on Andy Dalton, who beat him when TCU beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl last year:
“I was trying to find him after the game, but it was a pretty wild scene there. … It did feel good. He’s a great football player and he’s going to have many great games, but it felt really good to get even a little bit of revenge for the Rose Bowl because obviously that was a tough time for us as Badgers.”
What do you think that play will do for you as far as being recognized?:
“It’s pretty wild. Going around town, I can’t really go anywhere anymore. Obviously there’s a lot more media coverage, a lot of people coming out of the woodwork to say hello. But it’s cool; I love it. That’s part of the game. You make big plays and that’s what comes. I’d much rather have a lot of people talking to me than nobody talking to me.”
Isn’t that just what you dream of growing up?:
“It’s definitely what you dream about. To have an interception for a touchdown in an NFL playoff game for a franchise that’s never been to the playoffs for, it’s indescribable. It’s something beyond my wildest dreams. … I’m living the dream and I’m living it for everyone who’s ever wished they could live it.”