Steelers News

James Harrison Congratulates T.J. Watt For Breaking His Team Single-Season Sack Record, Wants Him To ‘Chase Down That NFL Record’

After Mike Merriweather put up a standout 15-sack season for the Pittsburgh Steelers back in 1984, that record stood for nearly two and a half decades. It wasn’t until James Harrison came along and set a new team record with 16 sacks in 2008, a truly remarkable season that earned him Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Today, T.J. Watt broke Harrison’s sack record, and the legend paid tribute to his successor in that achievement after reaching 17.5 sacks on the season with a 1.5-sack performance against the Tennessee Titans in a home victory. He was happy to see Watt surpass his record—but not content.

“T.J.! Congratulation on breaking my record, and becoming the Steelers’ new single-season-sack record-holder”, he said in a recorded message he shared, and the team shared, via Twitter after the game. “But why stop there? Go on ahead and chase down that NFL single-season sack record, and become the new holder of that, too”.

With 17.5 sacks and three games to go, Watt does need to get a move on. The single-season sack record is 22.5, set by Michael Strahan in 2001. No Steeler in history has ever come close to that; Watt is the first to even have a longshot chance.

He entered the day with a one-sack lead over the Cleveland Browns’ Myles Garrett for the most in the NFL in 2021, 16 to 15. The Browns will play tomorrow evening. Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers reached 15 sacks as well, today. Robert Quinn, with 14 sacks, also plays tomorrow. But as it currently stands, he holds a 2.5-sack lead entering tonight’s game over the rest of the NFL.

It was not lost on Harrison after the game that he, like Watt, set the Steelers’ single-season sack record against the Tennessee Titans, and he made acknowledgement of that after the game as well in another Twitter posting, showing a video of his own record-breaking sack of Kerry Collins back in 2008.

Watt, of course, has only played 12 games this season, missing two due to injury, and he has played only a fraction of the game in three others, losing more than another game’s worth of playing time.

He is averaging nearly 1.5 sacks per game if you measure only by games played. He’ll need to do slightly better than that over the final three weeks of the season if he intends to reach Strahan’s record. Strahan himself, however, only had 17 sacks in his first 13 games that season, recording another 3.5 in the final three weeks.

There’s always a chance, and Watt has seven multi-sack games this season out of 12 games played, so the odds are good that he has at least one or two games over this stretch run in which he can make significant headway, including two games with three-plus sacks.

Harrison, by the way, won the Defensive Player of the Year Award, as mentioned, in 2008, though he didn’t even lead the league in sacks that season—former teammate Joey Porter actually did. Will Watt finally get his? Talk has picked up for Garrett and even Cowboys rookie Micah Parsons in recent weeks.

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