On Sunday January 9, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt authored a second quarter sack of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley, giving him 22.5 sacks on the season and tying Michael Strahan for the NFL’s single-season record.
However, the Steelers believe that Watt should have been awarded a second sack, on a first-quarter play in which the Steelers defender was credited with a tackle for loss (TFL).
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According to Tommy Stokke of The Action Network, Steelers Director of Communications Burt Lauten “told The Action Network that as soon as the play happened, the team asked for the play to be looked at for statistical purposes.”
In a nutshell, Huntley tried to catch a bad snap that careened off the backside of Baltimore’s center. Ultimately, Huntley picked up the ball and began to move forward with it, only to be drilled by Watt, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Steelers.
“My understanding was that it was a sack, but apparently it wasn’t, at least according to the statisticians,” said Watt in an interview with MMQB’s Albert Breer as the Steelers star boarded the team’s return flight to Pittsburgh. According to Watt it should have been a sack “because (Huntley) still could have thrown the ball.”
What Happens Now?
As noted by Stokke, if the NFL agrees the play should be reviewed, Elias Sports Network would handle the reassessment, with a “stat review possible.”
It’s a “regular procedure” notes Bob Labriola of Steelers.com. “The team can—I don’t know if petition is the right word—but seek a second opinion from Elias Sports Bureau. They will go over and review the video and make some determination as to how the play should have been scored accurately. So I’m confident that will happen.”
If nothing changes, Watt will have to be content with equaling Strahan’s record, which the New York Giants Hall of Famer set in 16 games in 2001.
Some will note that Watt had a chance to equal Strahan only because of the new 17-game schedule, except the former first-round pick played in only 15 games, missing the Week 11 tilt against the Chargers and the Week 3 home game against the Bengals. Moreover, in two of the 15 contests he played less than a half (Week 2 vs. the Raiders and Week 14 vs. the Vikings). He also missed much of the team’s Week 10 tie vs. the Detroit Lions with hip and knee injuries.
But none of that stopped Watt from piling up an impressive number of impact plays, which explains why he is considered the favorite to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. During the regular season, Watt was credited with 64 tackles (48 solo), with 22.5 sacks, 21 tackles for loss, 39 quarterback hits, seven passes defensed, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
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