Saturday, January 29, 2022

Steelers’ appeal to give T.J. Watt NFL sack record rejected, pass-rusher remains tied with Michael Strahan

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Heading into Week 18, all T.J. Watt needed was one sack to knot himself in the history books with Michael Strahan for the all-time record in a single season at 22.5. For a minute, it looked like the Pittsburgh pass-rusher made quick work of that history-making endeavor, knocking the football loose from Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley in the first quarter on Sunday. 

In the immediate aftermath of the play, the takedown was treated as if Watt had tied himself with Strahan for the record. However, the statisticians in Baltimore ultimately ruled the botched snap between Huntley and center, Bradley Bozeman, as an aborted play with Watt being credited for a tackle for loss and a forced fumble, but no sack. 

Watt was eventually able to sack Huntley in the second quarter to tie the single-season record, so he was still able to reach the milestone. That said, the Steelers did appeal to the Elias Sports Bureau, who has the final say in such circumstances, about that first takedown. That appeal, the team confirmed to Pro Football Talk, was rejected. 

Had Elias ruled differently, Watt would have broken the record entirely, albeit in a rather dull fashion. Of course, the sack record is no stranger to controversy as Strahan broke the record as Packers quarterback Brett Favre appeared to fall in front of him, which paved the way for the takedown. 

While Watt may not have the record to himself, those 22.5 sacks should have him en route to winning the NFL Defensive Player of Year award for the first time in his career. 

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