Something happened last night for the Pittsburgh Steelers that hasn’t happened in a long time. T.J. Watt failed to register a sack. His goose egg in the sack column (though certainly not in the pressure column) was the first he’s posted in quite a while. He recorded at least half a sack in nine consecutive games, the second-longest in team history behind LaMarr Woodley, and the most in a single season.
By my count, it was tied for the sixth-longest single-season streak for consecutive games with a sack in NFL history. The longest was set just last year by Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs, who recorded at least half a sack in 11 consecutive games. Those who recorded at least half a sack in 10 consecutive single-season games are Kevin Carter, Jevon Kearse, Michael Strahan, and Simon Fletcher.
Jared Allen, Von Miller, Joey Porter (with the Miami Dolphins), and Dennis Harrison are the other four players, in addition to Watt, who have recorded at least half a sack in nine consecutive games in a single regular season, meaning only nine players in NFL history have done it. There are only 18 players who have ever had that many games in even multiple seasons.
Despite the absence of a sack, Watt still got into the backfield and forced Kyler Murray to scramble on a number of occasions. He also got his second interception of the season, this one a critical play that occurred in the end zone.
With three games remaining, he has 12.5 sacks on the season, which is a half-sack behind the career-high of 13 that he achieves in 2018, when he reached the Pro Bowl. As of the time of this writing, he remains the AFC leader in sacks and is fourth in the NFL, and also leads the conference in forced fumbles with five, tied for second overall.
Watt isn’t simply going to make the Pro Bowl this year. He is going to be an All-Pro, and with a strong finish over the next three games, he could even be authoring a Defensive Player of the Year campaign. He already has produced five turnovers (three fumble recoveries and two interceptions) in addition to forcing five fumbles and being in the top five in sacks. He’s also tied with Za’Darius Smith in quarterback hits.
So while his sack streak may have ended, it only provides the opportunity for another one to begin. He needs four sacks over the final three games to break James Harrison’s official sack record of 16, which he set during his 2008 Defensive Player of the Year season of his own.