There’s a strong and obvious correlation to T.J. Watt getting sacks and the Pittsburgh Steelers winning. But Watt tries not to focus on individual accolades. Getting the “W” is all that matters, something he hopes the Steelers will do this weekend.
Despite being on pace for a career- and record-setting season, Watt doesn’t pay much attention to his numbers.
“There’s so much that goes on week in and week out, I don’t look at any of that stuff,” Watt told reporters post-practice Friday in audio provided by the team. “I’m trying to win games week in and week out.”
But Watt making big plays usually means the Steelers are on the right side of outcomes. Watt has 42 career games with at least a half-sack. In those games, the Steelers have a .702 winning percentage (29-12-1). In the 25 games in which he doesn’t have a sack, the team’s win percentage drops to .640 (16-9).
To take it a step further, in games where Watt has at least 1.5 sacks, the Steelers are an incredible 13-1-1, a .900 winning percentage. The only loss came earlier this year, a two-sack performance against Green Bay, which included two low-quality sacks of Aaron Rodgers (a trip and a QB slide).
Still, whether he has three sacks or none, getting the win is all that matters. Watt will need to get some pressure and probably some sacks this weekend against the Cleveland Browns. Baker Mayfield will get the nod for the Browns and his sack percentage has almost doubled this season, just under 10%, the third highest percentage in football only behind rookies Justin Fields and Zach Wilson.
Cleveland’s offensive line has gotten healthier and will get back RT Jack Conklin to the lineup. A relatively tough task for Watt but a man he’s handled before.
Though Watt doesn’t want to focus on personal goals, he’s on pace to put up unreal numbers. With seven sacks through six games (and really, 4.5 games for him considering the time he’s missed through injury), he’s on pace to finish the year with 19.5 of them. That’d easily be a franchise record, breaking James Harrison’s 2008 mark of 16, and would make Watt one of the league’s most successful pass rushers five years into a career.
The Steelers’ defense has just 15 sacks through the first six games, putting them on pace for only 42.5 even in a 17-game season. That jeopardizes their 50+ sack streak they’ve had four years running. At least three sacks this weekend would go a long way to keeping the hopes of that steak alive and more importantly, the Steelers’ notching their third straight victory.