Cleveland Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett has won the Defensive Player of the Year Award, just edging out Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt. Garrett earned 23 first-place votes while Watt earned 19 first-place votes, and Garrett beat Watt by just 25 points in the final voting. Following Garrett and Watt was Dallas’ Micah Parsons and Las Vegas’ Maxx Crosby.
Watt, who won the award in 2021, was the most statistically dominant defensive player in the NFL this season. Watt had 19 sacks this season and set a modern NFL record as the first player to lead the league in sacks for a third time since it became an official statistic back in the early 1980s. Deacon Jones of the Los Angeles Rams unofficially led the league in sacks five times the 1960s. Watt also led the NFL in sacks in 2020 and 2021, when he tied the all-time single-season sack records, drawing even with Michael Strahan’s mark of 22.5.
But Garrett won in metrics like Pass Rush Win Rate and Pressure Rate while being double-teamed at a higher rate. That led to Garrett securing his first Defensive Player of the Year Award over Watt. The Steelers were not shut out completely from awards, as Cam Heyward secured the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
In traditional stats, Watt lso recorded 36 quarterback hits, 19 tackles for loss, eight passes defended, four forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered, one interception and one defensive touchdown, a game-sealing fumble return against the Browns. His case was built on the statistical dominance in the traditional counting stats rather than the advanced metrics.
Watt was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Year by the 101 Committee, and won recent anonymous player and fan votes for the award. But Garrett won the Pro Football Writers version of the award and taking home more hardware on Thursday night.
For Pro Football Focus’ metrics, Pass Rush Win Rate is where Garrett soared above the league. Garrett was graded as having a 27.3% win rate, the highest in the league. He was also assigned 60 hurries compared to 47 for Watt.