The Pittsburgh Steelers have a new all-time sacks leader, as T.J. Watt’s sack on Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson rewrote the record books on Monday night.
The veteran outside linebacker used sheer strength and speed, his two calling cards to being such a feared edge rusher, to get past right tackle Dawand Jones and take down Watson with one minute left to play in the second quarter.
It was a big play, too, as the Browns were driving. But on third-and-seven, Watt shut that down and forced a field goal.
Watt came into the 2023 season needing just 3.5 sacks to pass Steelers great James Harrison for the most in franchise history.
He was one of the few bright spots for the Steelers in Week 1, as he was able to sack San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy three times in his first game of the new campaign. Watt finished with five tackles in the game.
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The Wisconsin product has been one of the best defensive players in the league since he’s come out of college, collecting seven sacks in his rookie season.
Then, he put together four straight seasons of double-digit sacks from 2018-2021, which included 22.5 in 2021 on his way to winning Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his career after finishing as the runner-up in 2020.
Injuries stymied Watt’s production last season, as he had just 5.5 sacks in 10 games.
A healthy Watt likely would’ve broken the record in 2022, but the Steelers knew this was coming.
Watt is a cornerstone piece for the Steelers’ defense, and they hope he continues his stellar production as he’s not set for another contract until the 2026 season.
Along with his Defensive Player of the Year designation, Watt has tallied five Pro Bowl appearances and three first-team All-Pro selections.