The Detroit Lions ran the ball so well today that they didn’t have to drop back to pass very often, but they did just enough to help the Pittsburgh Steelers’ T.J. Watt reach an impressive achievement. In his 70th game played, he recorded his 62nd career sack, the second-most through 70 games in NFL history behind only Reggie White, who had an absurd 79.
Which his fourth-quarter sack of Jared Goff, he broke a three-way tie with Derrick Thomas, as well as with his older brother, J.J. Watt. Thomas finished his career with 126.5 sacks, producing at a high rate into his 30s. He sadly passed away at 33 following complications from a car accident.
1. Reggie White (79)
2. T.J. Watt (62)
3. Derrick Thomas / J.J. Watt (61)
— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) November 14, 2021
J.J. Watt, of course, is still in the league, though he is once again sidelined due to injury. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year has 102 sacks in 11 seasons, but he has missed at least half a season in five of the past seven years.
The elder Watt recorded 74.5 sacks by the end of his fifth season, in 80 games. T.J. would need to get another 12.5 sacks over the course of the final eight games of this season to match that. It was after that season, however, that injuries began to derail J.J.’s phenomenal pace.
T.J. came into today’s game with 11.5 sacks on the season, just half-sack behind the Cleveland Browns’ Myles Garrett for the NFL lead. Both of them added a sack today. We are still awaiting word on Watt, however, who suffered an injury as he was recording that sack, banging knees with Joe Schobert.
Watt has recorded at least one sack in seven of the eight games in which he has played this season, with multiple sacks in five games. He recorded three sacks last week against the Chicago Bears, who have given up the most sacks in the NFL.
In fact, he was on a three-game streak of recording multiple sacks, following the one game in which he did not record one. He was setting himself up to be on pace to break the single-season sack record, but we’re just hoping to see him back on the field again in the near future. He was listed with a hip injury by the team late in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers have 25 sacks as a team this season, so he has accounted for exactly half of their sacks. Pittsburgh has put up over 50 sacks per season for the past few years, but they have not been at quite the same level this year—with Bud Dupree gone, and Stephon Tuitt on the Reserve/Injured List all season.
Obviously there’s plenty more to talk about from this game, which somehow ended in neither a win nor a loss, and which was just generally awful football from an objective point of view. But at least while reading this article, let’s just appreciate having had the opportunity to watch a great player like Watt for the past five years.