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How T.J. Watt Used Film to Out-Fox the Raiders



Steelers T.J. Watt

PITTSBURGH — There’s no question that Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt is a talented player, but he’s also an extremely diligent student of the game, and that paid off for one of his sacks against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Watt came off the edge on a play-action handoff in the first quarter, and he worked right around Raiders right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor, for the first pressure he had allowed all season and landed the first sack of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in 2023.

In an appearance on Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, Watt’s older brother J.J. Watt explained that T.J. had been beaten by that fake when the Raiders played the Steelers in 2022, and he was determined to not let it happen again.

“Last year, on this exact same play, I bit on the run fake and I told Coach Tomlin during the week, I’m not gonna bite on that run fake this time,” T.J. Watt said to J.J. this week.

“So he got the sack and he pointed right to Tomlin and was like I told you,” J.J. Watt said.

No one is surprised by Watt having the film-room chops to correctly identify what play the Raiders were running and sussing out the fake ahead of time. 

“He’s constantly growing and trying to improve,” J.J. Watt said. “He was already an incredible player. But he wants to learn, he wants to grow, he wants to get better. He has this hunger. He doesn’t want to talk about anything else. … He just wants to talk ball. He just wants to talk about the offensive tackle he’s facing, the offense he’s seeing this week. He’s solely focused on success and it’s a lot of fun to see.”

His head coach sees it, too.

“Some people watch tape, some people study tape,” Tomlin said on Tuesday. “And there’s a difference. However you describe the spectrum, T.J. is on the extreme end of it from a preparedness standpoint. And that’s one of the reasons why you get the production that you get from him beyond his freakish talent.”