Despite often playing injured, Pittsburgh Steelers fifth-year running back TJ Watt put in a phenomenal 2021 season, one that is certain to earn him the Defensive Player of the Year title after being a runner-up in each of the two seasons. previous.
The highlight of his campaign was his 22.5 sacks, which not only broke the Steelers’ franchise record of 16, but tied the most sacks ever recorded in a single season, matching the number submitted by Hall of Famer the Michael Strahan Fame in 2001.
However, like Strahan, it was all in vain. The New York Giants didn’t actually even qualify for the postseason that year after losing their last two games. The Steelers barely got in, but were hastily eliminated by the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I definitely would have traded a lot of those to keep playing at this point.,” Watt told Pat McAfee when he was on the former Pro Bowl kicker’s show this afternoon. He got a sack from Patrick Mahomes, and even recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown in the game, but they ultimately lost by three touchdowns.
Watt had a chance to not only tie but break the record, and there were a couple of potential sacks in the season finale. Early in the game, following a botched snap, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley picked up the fumble and started to get up when Watt came in and hit him, dislodging the ball. Later in the game, he and Cameron Heyward split a sack, but Heyward was called for roughing the passer, denying the play.
Either one would have given Watt the total needed to break the record. The first play was officially recorded as a play abort and forced fumble; the Steelers officially requested a review of the score, but the original score was upheld.
When asked if he still thinks about those plays and how they could have given them the outright record, he told McAfee that he does “a little, but not that much.” [as you might think]because 22 and a half, I am very happy with him”.
He has the third-most sacks in five seasons in NFL history, behind only Reggie White and his older brother, JJ Watt. While he hopes to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, however, he repeatedly speaks of both that award and the sack record as team accomplishments.
“The thing that bothers me the most is that everyone acts like it’s a personal compliment, it’s just me,” he said. “There are so many sacks out there where a couple of times the quarterback takes a coverage sack and I’m the first to touch it. It’s not just me who gets those numbers, for sure.”
Everything can play as a team, but everyone watching knows that anyone else playing the same role on those same snaps wouldn’t have recorded the same number of sacks. Watt got those numbers because he is Watt and he deserves to be individually recognized for it.