Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt has been named defensive player of the year by the Pro Football Writers of America, the organization announced on Wednesday.
Watt tied Hall of Famer Michael Strahan for the most sacks in a single season in NFL history with 22.5, the second straight season he led the league in sacks. His 1.5 sacks per game in 2021 were the most in NFL history. He is the third player to lead the league in sacks in consecutive seasons.
Watt also recorded a league-leading 21 tackles-for-loss, 39 quarterback hits and five forced fumbles.
Watt was also named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press, All-NFL by the PFWA, AFC Defensive Player of the Year by 101 Awards, was voted onto the AFC Pro Bowl team and for the third consecutive season, was chosen as the Steelers’ Most Valuable Player.
The Associated Press has not yet announced the results of its Defensive Player of the Year Award, which is part of the annual NFL Honors ceremony scheduled for Feb. 10. Watt finished second for that award in 2020 and third in 2019.
The PFWA has awarded the Defensive Player of the Year honors since 1992. Watt is the second Steelers player to receive the award. James Harrison won it in 2008. He is the first linebacker to win the award since Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs in 2011.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was named the PFWA’s 2021 NFL MVP. Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp was named Offensive Player of the Year.
Here is the full list of PFWA NFL Defensive Player of the Year winners:
1992 — DT Cortez Kennedy, Seattle Seahawks
1993 — DE Bruce Smith, Buffalo Bills
1994 — CB Deion Sanders, San Francisco 49ers
1995 — LB Bryce Paup, Buffalo Bills
1996 — DE Bruce Smith, Buffalo Bills
1997 — DT Dana Stubblefield, San Francisco 49ers
1998 — DE Reggie White, Green Bay Packers
1999 — DT Warren Sapp, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2000 — LB Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens
2001 — DE Michael Strahan, New York Giants
2002 — LB Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2003 — LB Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens
2004 — S Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens
2005 — LB Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears
2006 — DE Jason Taylor, Miami Dolphins
2007 — S Bob Sanders, Indianapolis Colts
2008 — LB James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers
2009 — CB Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers
2010 — LB Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers
2011 — LB Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens
2012 — DE J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
2013 — DE Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams
2014 — DE J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
2015 — DE J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
2016 — DE Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders
2017 — DE Calais Campbell, Jacksonville Jaguars
2018 — DT Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
2019 — CB Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots
2020 — DT Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
2021 – LB T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
Alan Saunders of Steelers Now is a voter for PFWA awards.