Half a sack and a forced fumble at this point in T.J. Watt’s career almost seems like a tame day at the office, but perhaps part of the reason that it feels that way—outside of the fact that he has set such high expectations for himself—is the reality that the Pittsburgh Steelers lost the game.
Still, as it concerns individual achievement, it was another game to be celebrated overall by the third-year outside linebacker, finishing with four tackles, two for a loss, with the forced fumble, half a sack, and two hits on the quarterback. He has gotten into the sack column in 10 of 13 games this season.
And he now has 13 on the season. He also had 13 last year. And in doing so, he became the first player in team history not just to have 13 sacks in consecutive seasons, but in any two seasons. That is quite an impressive accomplishment, considering some of the names they’ve had.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Steelers have actually only had 21 individual seasons in which a player recorded at least 10 sacks in a single season (since sacks became an official statistic in 1982). As of now, only James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, and Jason Gildon have three such seasons. Keith Willis, Joey Porter, and Kevin Greene each had two, though of course Greene, among the NFL all-time leaders in sacks, was only here for three years. And he had 14 and 12.5 sacks.
Now Watt joins these six other players as Steelers who have had multiple double-digit sacks in their history (and Cameron Heyward has a chance to join them if he can get two more over the final two games). Watt is the only player to have two of the team’s now nine seasons with at least 13 sacks, however. If he gets another, it will tie him with Greene and Willis for third in team history. Another would tie him with Mike Merriweather for second. One more after that and he would share the 16-sack official record with Harrison.
Pro Football Reference’s date unfortunately only goes back to 1993 on this one, but according to their numbers, Watt’s six forced fumbles in each of the past two seasons also makes him just the second player for the Steelers since then to post that number in consecutive seasons.
Harrison had seven in each of 2007 and 2008. He had five in 2009 and then six in 2010, as well, for a four-year total of 25. Greg Lloyd forced at least five fumbles in five consecutive seasons from 1991 through 1995, totaling 27 in that span.
But Watt’s 13 forced fumbles in his first three seasons is clearly the most in team history (since 1993 at least) by a good margin. Porter was the closest with seven. Myron Belle, Ryan Shazier, Lawrence Timmons, and Rod Woodson each had five.
What Watt is doing is already impressive from a longitudinal standpoint. When considering how early in his career he is already accomplishing these feats, it’s actually somewhat remarkable.