The 12 Plays of Christmas: No. 11

With the holidays upon us, is counting down the top plays of the season, with the No. 1 play to finish out the year. So who is next on the list? This play highlighted two great stories and two important Washington defenders, but it wasn't a defensive play. Confused? Come check it out!

The second play of Christmas came in just the third game of the season. It was supposed to be a walk in the park for Washington as they took on FCS foe Portland State, and it was. It gave chances to players new and old to get off to a great start, and that especially held true for Shaquille Thompson and Tre Watson.

If you're looking for polar opposites on Washington's defense, you can't get much different when comparing the backgrounds of Thompson and Watson. Thompson came to Montlake the No. 1 safety in the country, a true difference-maker on the field. Watson came out of high school with little fanfare and less in the way of FBS scholarship offers. So after one season at a juco and one at Central Washington, Watson was ready to prove his worth at the highest level. He not only earned a scholarship, but the 5-foot-9, 183-pound junior cornerback earned a spot in the starting lineup. It was an incredible story of perseverance and belief.

Thompson, despite all the plaudits and kudos, was just as hungry to prove that there was substance behind all the hype. So when he came clean through on an attempted field goal by Portland State mid-way through the second quarter, he saw his first big chance to make his mark. He absolutely smothered Nick Fernandez' 33-yard attempt, and the ball cleanly fell to Watson, who was given an escort by the true frosh all the way to the end zone - a 79-yard return to pay dirt.

The play was significant because it showed that both Thompson and Watson had come to play and do their part in any way possible - including special teams. It gave UW fans an early glimpse into the massive impact Thompson would make. He eventually would rack up 66 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and have three picks on the year. And it also showed what Watson, who ended up started five games at cornerback in 2012, could be counted on to contribute.

The biggest thing is that the play was prelude to a host of turnovers the defense and special teams were able to force over the course of the 2012 season - 32, to be exact. The 17 interceptions UW would come up with was the most by a Huskies team in 20 years, and the 15 fumble recoveries tied for the most in a decade.

The 12 Plays of Christmas: No. 12 Top Stories