As any good older brother would do, J.J. Watt has for years held over T.J.’s head the fact that he is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year Award. While big brother was ecstatic for his sibling to finally win his first honor this past week, however, you can be sure that he quickly reminded T.J., he’s still got two more on the trophy shelf.
While T.J. stresses repeatedly that he is not big on individual accolades, he did last week concede that there is that familial motivation to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award, because he grew up seeing his brother win that award over and over again, and to have him be reminded of it with regularity.
Still, that’s ultimately not where his top priority lies. When asked on the Associated Press Pro Football Podcast if there’s a motivation to catch up to J.J., he responded, “I’m trying to get a Lombardi before him. I think that’s the bigger goal”.
While J.J. Watt won the Defensive Player of the Year Award three times in his first five seasons, he played on a lot of bad or mediocre Houston Texans team during his decade there. They did advance to the postseason seven times, including one year for which he was on the Reserve/Injured List, but he was only on the field for three wins, 3-6 overall. He played in only one conference finals, in 2019.
J.J. signed with the Arizona Cardinals this past offseason. While he spent most of the year on the Reserve/Injured List, he was able to return for the postseason, though he only played a limited number of snaps. The Cardinals were soundly defeated by the Los Angeles Rams, however, who are representing the NFC tonight.
As for little brother, the Steelers have gone to the postseason in three of his five years in the league thus far; however, they are 0-3 in those three years, losing in the Divisional Round during his rookie season in 2017 after securing a first-round bye, and then being eliminated in the Wild Card Round in each of the past two seasons.
Pittsburgh was blown away by the Kansas City Chiefs last month, 42-21. The Steelers defense has given up an average of 45 points in the three postseason games they have played in the past five seasons, with 42 being the lowest. They allowed 48 last year to the Cleveland Browns.
They last won a playoff game the year before they drafted Watt, advancing to the AFC Championship Game. Nobody who has come to the team since then has experienced a postseason victory with the Steelers. And there aren’t many left who have been here for longer.
The total number of current Steelers who have experienced a postseason victory with the team: Two. Cameron Heyward and Chris Boswell. With Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement, that’s it. Nobody else in Pittsburgh knows what it’s like to win a playoff game with the Steelers. So T.J.’s got a lot of work to do if he wants to make sure he beats J.J. to a Lombardi, because the Cardinals look a lot closer than the Steelers do right now.