In the obituary for the Houston Texans' 2013 season, the answers to two questions matter the most:
What we saw over and over again through Houston's 14 losses was a team that couldn't recover when things went bad. The mental toughness required to persevere appeared in the Texans' first two wins, but as more bad things happened in games, there rose an expectation that things would eventually go poorly.
Those bad things were varied, but often came through interceptions. That's why, as I examined the Texans' 2013 season, interceptions seemed repeatedly like the most important plays. As the league year comes to a close, we finish this series on 10 interceptions that shaped the Texans' 2013 season.
This one changed everything.
1. Richard Sherman's dagger
The Texans led the Seattle Seahawks by 17 points on their way to what at halftime looked like what was finally supposed to happen that season. Houston would win, they'd finally show that they were the juggernaut everyone expected in the preseason. They'd erase the wobbly feeling of two come-from-behind wins, dispel the sour taste of their first loss and march toward what was surely their destiny.
And then, halftime.
Ben Tate fumbled and the Seahawks kicked a field goal. The Texans didn't score in the second half, but the Seahawks used the kind of balance that made them Super Bowl champions to score their first touchdown of the game.
With 5:13 left in the game, up seven points, the Texans ran Arian Foster four times, eating 2:22. But then, a pass.
And then, disaster.
Sherman expected Matt Schaub's pass to tight end Owen Daniels, he'd practiced the very same play earlier that week and picked it off then, too. He returned the interception 58 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
Overtime had its own theatrics, but the impact of Sherman's pick six reverberated throughout the season. Both teams' destinies set into motion that afternoon at Reliant Stadium. They left that game both 2-2, with vastly different futures.
While the Seahawks gained confidence that day, the cracks in Schaub's confidence appeared and an unexpected spiral began.