NFL MVP 2012: Huge Game vs. Colts Puts J.J. Watt Back in Thick of Race

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 16:  J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans waits on the sideline during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Reliant Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Just when it looked like the race for the NFL's MVP award was down to four candidates on the offensive side of the ball, Houston's J.J. Watt reminded everyone that he is still worthy of consideration for the honor.

He reminded us in a big way.

With the AFC South on the line in Houston's Week 15 game against the Indianapolis Colts, Watt recorded 10 tackles (six for a loss), three sacks, four quarterback hits and a forced fumble as the Texans clinched the division and held onto the top overall seed in the AFC playoffs.

It was a welcome sight after Watt was far from his dominant self in Week 14 when Houston got thumped by the New England Patriots, a game that saw him record three QB hits, four tackles and a forced fumble in a losing effort.

Watt's numbers on the season are impressive: 74 tackles, 19.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and 15 passes defended. Watt is now tied with San Francisco LB Aldon Smith for the league lead in sacks.

He has already set the single-season sack record for the Texans, and like Smith, Watt finds himself only three sacks behind the NFL single-season record of 22.5, set by the New York Giants' Michael Strahan in 2001.

Watt has recorded a sack in 11 of the 14 games in which he's played in 2012.

He is the first defensive player in NFL history to record 14 sacks and 14 passes defended in the same season, and his 15 passes defended have rewritten the record books for defensive linemen. Reggie White held the old mark with 13 back in 1991.

He has been the most dynamic force on one of the league's best defenses.

Opposing teams game plan for him, only to watch as Watt blows up those best-laid plans with his combination of strength, speed and determination that few have.

Only two defensive players have ever won the NFL MVP award: legendary Minnesota Vikings' defensive end Allan Page in 1975 and New York Giants' linebacker Lawrence Taylor, arguably the greatest defensive player in the history of the game, in 1986.

Watt is making it awfully difficult for the voters to not make it three.