Two members of the Pittsburgh Steelers made the Pro Football Writers of America’s 2021 All-NFL team – T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward.
The PFWA released their NFL and conference teams a short time ago, with Heyward and Watt making the combined, league-wide list. Of course, those two also made the All-AFC squads, as well.
For Watt, it’s his third straight year making this list. He had a historic 2021 season, putting up 22.5 sacks despite missing two full games and chunks of others, tying Michael Strahan’s official mark. He is viewed as the favorite to win the AP’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, one he’s narrowly lost out on each of the past two seasons. His main competition is Rams’ DT Aaron Donald, also coming off another great year.
Heyward, somewhat quietly, had arguably the best season of his career. He ended the year with ten sacks, the second double-digit sack season in his career, something not even Joe Greene accomplished. He recorded an incredible 89 total tackles, the most by a Steelers’ defensive lineman since at least 1987, as far back as the stat is reliably tracked. It broke the team record over that span by one tackle, surpassing Donald Evans’ 88 tackles set back in 1992.
Watt and Heyward are an elite duo along the Steelers’ front seven. Though they now play on opposite sides, they often find themselves meeting at the quarterback. As we wrote over the weekend, their 32.5 combined sacks make them the first Steelers’ pair to hit the 30+ mark and are tied for the third-most of any duo since 1982.
Watt and Heyward were the only two Steelers to make the All-NFL or even the All-AFC team. Minkah Fitzpatrick lost out to the Titans’ Kevin Byard and Bills’ Jordan Poyer, two understandable selections. And Chris Boswell is seemingly permanently blocked by the Ravens’ Justin Tucker on these lists. Najee Harris also predictably lost out to the Browns’ Nick Chubb and Colts’ Jonathan Taylor, while Diontae Johnson was overshadowed by the Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase and Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill.
Check out the full list of NFL, AFC, and NFC squads here.
The PFWA announces its' 2021 All-NFL, All-AFC and All-NFC teams … pic.twitter.com/LzSUtblSmz
— Pro Football Writers (@PFWAwriters) January 24, 2022