Plays of the Year: T.J. Watt ties NFL single-season sack record

Steel City Underground presents “Plays of the Year” featuring the top runs, catches, hits and everything else in-between from the Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 season.

An AFC playoff berth was on the line as the Pittsburgh Steelers bucked the odds and handed the Baltimore Ravens a loss in their stadium in the final week of the 2021 regular season.

The game was a low-scoring affair that ended up going into an overtime period.

It was memorable in one other way, however, besides being the first step the Steelers needed to have a shot at the postseason. Late in the second quarter, outside linebacker T.J. Watt nailed Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley for a three-yard loss for a single-season sack record of 22.5.

The play came on a first-and-goal for the Ravens. Watt made an excellent dip move to get around the offensive line and wrapped Huntley up and held on as the duo spun to the turf.

Hall of Famer Michael Strahan set the NFL single-season record with 22.5 sacks in 2001. That record stood for two decades until Watt grabbed the sack on Huntley in a key AFC North rivalry game. Watt tied Strahan by playing in one less game than Strahan did due to missing time on the field due to injuries.

In games that Watt played over 60 percent of defensive snaps, the Steelers had a 9-2 win-loss record.

In his five seasons in the NFL, Watt has logged the following sack counts:

  • Year 1: 7.0 sacks
  • Year 2: 13.0 sacks
  • Year 3: 14.5 sacks
  • Year 4: 15.0 sacks
  • Year 5: 22.5 sacks

Watt made another play in the same game that many felt should’ve given him 23.5 sacks, and the all-time sacks leader title in the NFL. Huntley grabbed a muffed snap from his center and mishandled it, going to the turf to recover it.

Watt, who was pressuring, fell on Huntley and stripped the ball loose once again! Unfortunately, the officials ruled that the play was a tackle for a loss instead.

Fortunately for the Steelers, Watt’s over-the-top performance was enough to nudge them into the postseason with a 16-13 victory.

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