22.5 sacks. In one season. Take a minute to wrap your head around that.
Only two players have (officially) done that since the NFL began tracking stats in 1982. Michael Strahan in 2001 and T.J. Watt in 2021, capped off in Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Throughout the season, Watt said he wasn’t focused on numbers. But after taking down Tyler Huntley late in the second quarter, Watt couldn’t help but celebrate the moment.
After the game, he approached the record as he has everything else. With humbleness and selflessness, though he admitted the moment is pretty freakin’ awesome.
“It’s definitely a cool feeling,” he said in his post-game presser, one he entered with a hearty “Wooo!”. “Like I said, I don’t know if any of it has really hit me. It’s not just myself. There’s so many great players and coaches and schemes. A lot of selfless guys in that locker room that allow me to make plays. So that record isn’t just mine.”
With all the attention he receives, the Steelers run plenty of twists and pressures to try and get Watt free. And even with more conventional rushes, everyone else has to contain and constrict, allowing Watt to do his thing he so often does. Sack the quarterback.
It appeared Watt would tie the record early in the game after a fumbled snap between the Ravens’ center and quarterback. But the official ruling remains as an aborted play fumble, not crediting a sack to anyone. We’ll find out later in the week if the official scorers change their ruling. Watt, however, didn’t want to think about that moment.
“I don’t want to get into it. I was just happy to get another one and add it to the list.”
It’s a long list of sacks. 22.5 this season, 72 in his career. He’s now just nine sacks shy of setting the franchise record, something he should do in 2022 assuming he stays healthy enough. After notching the record, big brother J.J. Watt – who can’t say he’s done the same, one of the few accomplishments younger T.J. has over him – sent out a congratulatory tweet.
Though in brotherly love fashion, J.J. noted what happened to Watt the very next play when he took a shot…below the belt, let’s just say.
It should be noted the unofficial sack record remains intact, set by Detroit’s Al Baker in 1978. But when you see the official league history books, two names will top the single-season sack list. One of them will be T.J. Watt. It’ll be near the top of his resume when he’s inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, first ballot, five years after he retires.