The Pittsburgh Steelers went six years, from 2011 through the 2016 season, in which they failed to see at least one defender record 10 or more sacks during the year, a streak that was finally broken by defensive end Cameron Heyward in 2017. James Harrison was the last to do it before him, in 2010, LaMarr Woodley also hitting 10 that year.
Today, against the Jacksonville Jaguars, second-year outside linebacker T.J. Watt became the first at his position, and the second overall, to record 10 sacks in a single season for the Steelers defense since 2010, finishing with two sacks of Blake Bortles on the afternoon, and both of them were forced fumbles.
The two sacks marks the third time this season, the fourth time in his career, and the only the second time against a team that is not the Cleveland Browns, in which he recorded multiple quarterback takedowns in a game, giving him 17 now in 25 career games.
He is also just the fourth player in team history to record at least 10 sacks in the team’s first 10 games, this being the fifth instance overall. The first Steeler to do it, and the best, was defensive end Keith Willis in 1983, just the second year in which the sack was an official statistic.
Willis, who before Heyward last season was the only defensive lineman in team history to record double-digit sacks in a season, recorded 13 of his 14 sacks that year in the Steelers’ first 10 games, and he only played in 14 games in total.
Harrison set the single-season franchise record in sacks with 12 in 2008, and that season, he already had 12 of his 16 through the Steelers’ first 10 games. He actually repeated that accomplishment a year later in 2009, getting 10 sacks, though he would go the rest of that year without recording another sack.
The only other player in team history to record at least 10 sacks through 10 games was Kevin Greene, who had exactly 10 through 10 games during the 1994 season. He went on to finish the year with 14 sacks, which led the league.
As of this writing, Watt’s 10 sacks only sets him up in third place in the NFL behind Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter, in a tie with, among others, his other brother, J.J. Watt. His two forced fumbles today also bring him into another tie with his older brother with four on the season.
Watt’s two sacks were just part of a six-sack effort from the defense, which also included contributions from Cameron Heyward, Vince Williams, and Javon Hargrave, who recorded the first multi-sack game of his career. The defense now has 36 on the year, which pending future results now leads the NFL. The Green Bay Packers, who played on Thursday, had 34.