Scoring Change Moves Cam Heyward Past T.J. Watt on Steelers All-Time Sack List
A scoring change from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday has bumped Cam Heyward over T.J. Watt on the franchise’s all-time sack list. It was believed that Watt had 1.5 sacks to move into second place at 78.5, but his sack was stripped and rewarded to Alex Highsmith.
Heyward sacked Deshaun Watson on the final play of the game to give him two sacks on the afternoon and into second place on the Steelers all-time list at 78.5, behind only James Harrison (80.5). Heyward would have had three sacks, but he was called for unnecessary roughness and it got negated.
Watt recorded a half-sack late in the first quarter to tie Hall of Famer Joe Greene on the Steelers all-time sack list with 77.5. Watt is behind only L.C. Greenwood (78) and the aforementioned Heyward and Harrison. Watt has 16.0 career sacks against the Browns, which is the most in franchise history against Cleveland. No player in the NFL has more sacks against a single opponent since Watt entered the NFL in 2017 (Cameron Jordan, 15.0, vs. Atlanta).
After tying Micheal Strahan’s single-season all-time sack record with 22.5 last year and winning Defensive Player of the Year, it seemed like a lock that Watt would break Harrison’s franchise record for sacks, as he entered the year with 72. Of course, Watt suffered a torn pectoral in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals and didn’t return until Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints. Watt also had arthroscopic knee surgery, which further delayed his return while being sidelined by a pectoral injury. The knee injury occurred in the preseason against the Detroit Lions and it was a lingering issue. Watt finished the season with 5.5 sacks, 4.5 of which came in the final five games.
The Steelers were 8-2 and allowed only 16.9 points per game when Watt was active in 2022. When Watt didn’t play, the Steelers were 1-6 and surrendered 25.3 points per game. Pittsburgh also had 18 takeaways, 32 sacks and allowed 289.9 yards per game with Watt in the lineup. In contrast, without the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, the Steelers had just eight sacks, five takeaways and gave up 389.9 yards per game. The impact that Watt has on the defense is immense, to say the least.
Heyward finished the season with 10.5 sacks. It’s the second consecutive year and the third time overall that he’s recorded double-digit sacks. At 33, it seems like Heyward just gets better with age. If he continues the trajectory that he’s been on, he’ll be in Canton someday.