Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt was named the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year at the second-annual NFL Honors gala this evening in New Orleans, La.

Watt is the first Houston Texans player to earn a League-wide player of the year award and is the first defensive lineman to be recognized since Miami DE Jason Taylor won it in 2006. He is the 17th defensive lineman to be named AP Defensive Player of the Year and the eighth defensive end. 

The AP has presented the Defensive Player of the Year every year since 1971, when Minnesota DT Alan Page won the award.  The award is determined by a 50-member panel of national pro football writers, with one vote cast per voter. 

Watt (6-5, 295) led the NFL with 20.5 sacks, which tied for the sixth-most in a season in NFL history, and his 16 passes defensed were the most in League history by a defensive lineman. He became the only player in NFL history with at least 15 sacks and 15 passes defensed in the same season.

Watt led the Texans defense with 107 tackles, 39 tackles for loss, 42 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles; and he tied for second on the team with two fumble recoveries. According to a review of the official play-by-plays from each game this season, Watt contributed to 95 plays that either resulted in no gain or negative yardage, including tackles for loss and tackles for no gain, passes defensed, quarterback hits on passes that fell incomplete, sacks, forced fumbles that resulted in turnovers and fumble recoveries.

“He should be unanimous, I would think. He’s just a great player and he’s had the best year ever,” said Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips on January 10, when asked about Watt’s play this season. “He’s had the absolute best year any defensive lineman has ever had. And I had Elvin Bethea, who’s in the Hall of Fame, and he had some great years, and Bruce Smith had some great years, and Reggie White had some great years, but they didn’t make that many tackles, that many tackles for loss, that many knock downs and that many sacks in one year. Nobody has done that, so I can’t say enough great things about him because he’s a great player.”

Watt was one of two unanimous selections to the AP All-Pro team, along with Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson, and was voted into his first Pro Bowl as a starter on the AFC team. He was also named the Pro Football Weekly/PFWA Defensive Most Valuable Player this season and was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Year by Kansas City-based group NFL 101.

He earned AFC Defensive Player of the Month honors for September and December, to become the only player in franchise history to win the award twice in one season. Watt was also voted as the Texans’ Most Valuable Player by his teammates and was named to USA Football’s All-Fundamentals Team for his ability to maneuver into passing lanes and bat down passes.

J.J. Watt’s Honors This Season


Award Organization
Defensive   Player of the Year Associated   Press
Defensive Most   Valuable Player Pro Football   Weekly/PFWA
AFC Defensive   Player of the Year NFL 101
Unanimous   First-Team All-Pro Associated   Press
Pro Bowl   Starter National   Football League
All-Fundamentals   Team USA Football
AFC Defensive   Player of the Month (December) National   Football League
AFC Defensive   Player of the Month (September) National   Football League
Most Valuable   Player Houston Texans



Defensive Linemen Named AP Defensive Player of the Year


Year Player Pos. Team
2012 J.J. Watt DE Houston Texans
2006 Jason Taylor DE Miami Dolphins
2001 Michael   Strahan DE New York   Giants
1999 Warren Sapp DT Tampa Bay   Buccaneers
1998 Reggie White DE Green Bay   Packers
1997 Dana   Stubblefield DT San Francisco   49ers
1996 Bruce Smith DE Buffalo Bills
1992 Cortez Kennedy DT Seattle   Seahawks
1990 Bruce Smith DE Buffalo Bills
1989 Keith Millard DT Minnesota   Vikings
1987 Reggie White DT Philadelphia   Eagles
1983 Doug Betters DE Miami Dolphins
1979 Lee Roy Selmon DE Tampa Bay   Buccaneers
1977 Harvey Martin DE Dallas Cowboys
1974 Joe Greene DT Pittsburgh   Steelers
1972 Joe Greene DT Pittsburgh   Steelers
1971 Alan Page DT Minnesota   Vikings

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