Wednesday, January 19, 2022

T.J. Watt 1.5 sacks away from eclipsing Michael Strahan’s record that has stood for 20 years

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One of the most coveted records in the NFL is the single-season sack record, a mark held by Michael Strahan since 2001. Thanks to the advent of the 17th game, Watt will have the opportunity to match or pass Strahan for one of the most hallowed marks for a defensive player in the league.

Watt finished with four sacks for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Monday’s 26-14 win over the Cleveland browns, bringing up his sack total on the year to 21.5. He’s 1.5 sacks away from passing Strahan for the single-season mark (Strahan set the record with 22.5 sacks in the 2001 season). 

What makes Watt’s mark more impressive is that he’s recorded 21.5 sacks in just 14 games — only Reggie White has had that many sacks in 14 games or less (White had 21 sacks in 12 games in 1987). Watt and White are the only players in NFL history with 13 sacks in four consecutive seasons (White accomplished the feat twice). 

Watt — whose four sacks are the most by any Steelers player since Joey Porter had four in 2001 — said he won’t be consciously chasing the sack record in Week 18. But he will be facing a Ravens team that has allowed the most pressures in the NFL. 

“I didn’t even know I had the fourth one, but I was just trying to get more and trying to find as much wind as I possibly could,” Watt said. “Overall, I’m glad that the defense was able to create splash and we were able to get the win.”

Watt has averaged 0.93 sacks per game since entering the NFL in 2017, which is the best in league history (minimum 70 games started). He reached 70 sacks in just his 76th career game, the third-fastest to 70 sacks (White did it in 57 games and J.J. Watt reached the mark in 75). 

If Watt passes Strahan, he’ll be the all-time record holder since the league recognized sacks as an official statistic in 1982. Per Pro Football Reference, Al Baker had 23 sacks in 1978 — but that total is unofficial. 

With two sacks next week, Watt can end the debate for good. 

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