On Wednesday Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his dominating performance during Sunday’s 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field.
Statistically, Watt recorded 2.5 sacks for a loss of 20 yards, plus four quarterback hits and four tackles.
‘T.J. Watt Might Be the Best Edge Defender in the NFL’
But Watt’s stat line doesn’t completely tell the story of his dominance on Sunday, not to mention the previous Monday against the New York Giants.
Never mind the fact that Watt was named Pro Football Focus’ Week 1 Defensive MVP. “This week, he had another incredible game by producing a 91.2 PFF grade and 38% pass-rush win rate, nearly 10 percentage points higher than any other edge rusher during week 2,” notes PFF’s Anthony Treash.
It seems Watt’s success is building to greater and greater heights.
“This was Watt’s 11th regular-season game since 2018 in which he posted a PFF grade north of 80.0,” added Treash. “That’s the most at the position in that span by four…. His speed rip gave Denver’s tackles fits all game. We’ve become accustomed to naming players like his brother, J.J. Watt, or Khalil Mack or Von Miller as the best edge rusher in the NFL, but I think T.J. is separating himself from the pack and becoming the best.”
In 2019 Watt was AFC Defensive Player of the Month in November, and he won AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors twice in 2018.
Watt was Pittsburgh’s first-round draft pick in 2017 out of the University of Wisconsin. He has already produced 37 career sacks, which ranks him fourth overall and first among NFL linebackers in the past four seasons. He has also amassed 182 total tackles (129 solo), plus 76 quarterback hits, 39 tackles for loss, 15 forced fumbles, four recovered fumbles and four interceptions.
This Sunday it will be a family reunion of sorts at Heinz Field, when T.J. and his brother Derek host their older brother J.J. Watt, who plays for the visiting Houston Texans.
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Steelers Poised to Set a New Franchise Sack Record in 2020
As a team, the Steelers have already amassed ten sacks this season, well on their way to their goal of 50+ sacks, which would not only set a new franchise record but allow them to achieve a level of pass rushing success not seen in the NFL since the 1980s.
If the Steelers do get 50-plus sacks this season they would be the first NFL team to reach 50 or more in four consecutive seasons since the Lawrence Taylor-led New York Giants did it between 1985-88. The Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers also had four-year-long streaks during the 1980s.
As for the NFL record for most consecutive seasons with 50 or more sacks, that record is five, held by three teams, all of whom reached the mark in the same five seasons—1983-87. Those teams are the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team.