T.J. Watt On Cusp Of Franchise History, One Sack Away From Tying James Harrison’s Single-Season Record

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a total of six seasons in which a player has recorded at least 14 sacks in a single season in franchise history. T.J. Watt now has two of them. In fact, he has three seasons with at least 13 sacks, and he is the only player out of 10 total such seasons with more than one of them.

The other seven 13-sack seasons were recorded by, in chronological order, Keith Willis (1983), Mike Merriweather (1984), Kevin Greene (1994), Chad Brown (1996), Jason Gildon (2000), James Harrison (2008), and LaMarr Woodley (2009). For a team with such a rich history of sacks, it’s pretty remarkable that Watt is exclusive to this group.

Even if you drop the threshold to 12 sacks, you only pick up two more players with multiple seasons. Both Willis and Gildon had multiple seasons with at least 12 sacks, and you also add Cameron Heyward’s 2017 season to the list—the only defensive lineman other than Willis in franchise history to hit double-digit sacks, until Stephon Tuitt became the third with his 10th sack of the year against the Colts.

With two sacks against the Indianapolis Colts, Watt also surpassed his own career-best with his 14th and 15th sacks. He already had the third-most sacks in a single season in franchise history at 14.5, which he recorded in 2019. With 15, he now ties Merriweather for the second-most, and if he records one more in the finale against the Cleveland Browns, he will tie Harrison for the all-time team record of 16 sacks in a single season.

With still one game to play, Watt has already done dramatically better than any other player in franchise history in terms of getting off to a great start in terms of sacks. He has 49.5 sacks in his first four seasons, with one game left to play, which is more than 10 more than anybody else. Woodley had 39 sacks in his first four seasons.

The only other players in franchise history to pick up at least 30 sacks within their first four seasons are Joey Porter and Brown, who have 30.5 and 30, respectively. A total of eight players have at least 20 sacks in their first four seasons, the others being Willis (25.5), Keith Gary (21), Bud Dupree (20), and Greg Lloyd (20).

His next sack, or half-sack, if gained this year would also make him the first player in franchise history with 50 sacks within his first four seasons (he is already the only with 40-plus sacks). He already owns the record for the most sacks in any four-season span in team history (Harrison had 45.5 from 2008-2011, Gildon had 45 from 1998-2001, Woodley 44 from 2008-2011).

One more half-sack would also make him just the eighth player in franchise history to record 50 sacks for an entire career with the organization, since the official start of the sack as a statistic in 1982. And of course, assuming that he actually plays in the finale, he should have his sights set on claiming the franchise record for single-season sacks, which he needs one to tie, or 1.5 to break.

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