The Pittsburgh Steelers have a new all-time sack leader, as TJ Watt’s sacking of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson rewrote the record books Monday night.
The veteran outside linebacker used his strength and speed, his two calling cards for being such a feared edge rusher, to outrun right tackle Dawand Jones and beat Watson with a minute left in the second quarter.
It was also a big play, because the Browns were driving. But on third-and-7, Watt stopped that and forced a field goal.
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Watt entered the 2023 season with 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 season. campaign. Watt finished with five tackles in the game.
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The Wisconsin product has been one of the league’s best defensive players since leaving college, collecting seven sacks during his rookie season.
Then, he posted four straight double-digit sack seasons from 2018-21, including 22.5 in 2021, en route to winning Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his career after finishing second in 2020.
Injuries thwarted Watt’s production last season, as he managed just 5.5 sacks in 10 games.
A healthy Watt likely would have broken the record in 2022, but the Steelers knew it was coming.
Watt is a key piece of the Steelers’ defense, and they hope he continues his stellar production as he is not up for another contract until the 2026 season.
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In addition to his Defensive Player of the Year honors, Watt totaled five Pro Bowl appearances and three first-team All-Pro selections.