Updated: Jan 8, 2022
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
T.J. Watt is shaping up to be one of the greatest Steelers of all-time. In five seasons, Watt already has compiled 71 sacks. He should break James Harrison's record of 80.5 sacks for the most in franchise history next season.
Watt has 51 sacks in the last three seasons and needs just 1.5 sacks on Sunday against the Ravens to break Michael Strahan's NFL single-season sack record of 22.5, which was set in 2001. So, it was no surprise that Watt was named Steelers' MVP for the third consecutive year today, which was voted on by his teammates.
Watt is the only player in franchise history to win team MVP three consecutive years, and is the fifth player in team history to win it three or more times. Surprisingly, Ben Roethlisberger has won Steelers' MVP just once in his 18-year career, which was in 2009.
"It's all about tradition here and to be able to put your footprint in as part of the tradition here is special," Watt said. "I know it's an individual goal. I'm not big on individual achievements. But doing this with such a wonderful group of guys is what it's all about. To be able to be a part of this franchise hopefully for a long time, this is very special. But I really do have more work to do."
Watt also ranks No. 1 in quarterback hits (36) and is tied for first in tackles for loss (20). Watt should be a lock for Defensive Player of the Year. I just can't see how the Associated Press won't give it to him this year.
The added 17th game can't be used as an argument if Watt breaks Strahan's record either, as Watt has missed two games and has been sidelined for the majority of three games due to injury. According to Scott Kacsmar, Watt has 19.5 sacks in the 10 games where he played at least 60% of the snaps this season.
Watt is one of only two players in NFL history to have 20 plus sacks in 14 or fewer games since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. The only other one to do it was Hall of Famer Reggie White, who had 21 sacks in 12 games in 1987 in a strike-shortened season.
Tomlin was asked about Watt on the heels of breaking Strahan's record at his weekly press conference on Tuesday, and Tomlin said he was “not surprised by it at all."
“I thought he was capable of that for the last several years,” Tomlin said. “His pressure rate relative to sack-to-rush opportunities is what screams at you. You know, I don’t spend a lot of time analyzing the analytics of it, but I would imagine his pressure rate is historic relative to the rush opportunities. So when you’re putting yourself in position to affect the game as often as he does relative to rush opportunities, the numbers are just the natural component that comes with that. His rush rate over the last several years has just been unbelievable in terms of his ability to put pressure on the passer given his opportunities to rush.”
Watt had 3.5 sacks in the Steelers' Week 13 win over the Ravens. On the season, the Ravens have allowed a league-high 54 sacks.