Now that the regular season has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: OLB T.J. Watt
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The superstar edge rusher came up huge, as you well know, once again, recording two sacks and the game-turning forced fumble in the Steelers’ overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Great players make great plays at crucial moments. Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt is starting to accumulate a highlight reel of such plays through his first five seasons. He notched another example this past Sunday with a huge overtime performance to help the Steelers claim their second victory in a row.
With the offense unable to do much in terms of moving the ball in the second half of the game, despite scoring a couple of touchdowns early on, it was up to the defenders to hold off the Seahawks. Ultimately, the bent, significantly, but didn’t break. The game never should have even gotten to overtime, but Watt took over from there.
The fifth-year man had a tackle for loss and a sack against Seattle after they won the coin toss and chose to receive to start overtime. When the offense sputtered on its ensuing possession, he did one better and got the strip sack this time, giving them the ball in field goal range.
Up to that point, Watt had been having a good but not great game, with his most notable plays up to then being a few batted passes. He saved the best for last, becoming the first player to record two sacks and force a fumble in a single overtime period.
This is in no way atypical for Watt, who now has seven sacks on the season in five games played, along with seven tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, and three passes defensed. He is clearly gunning for yet another Defensive Player of the Year Award Participation Trophy. Or maybe even the real thing this time.