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T.J. Watt Makes NFL History as Three-Time Sack King



Steelers OLB T.J. Watt

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt is once again the NFL sack king. It marks the third time in his career that he’s led the league in sacks, which is an NFL record. Watt has led the league in sacks in three of the last four seasons (2020, 2021 and 2023).

He is the first player to win the NFL sack title three times since it became an official stat. Deacon Jones of the Los Angeles Rams unofficially led the league in sacks five times the 1960s.

Watt recorded two sacks in Saturday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens to increase his total to 19. He was tied with Trey Hendrickson of the Cincinnati Bengals at 17 heading into Week 18. Hendrickson recorded a half-sack in the Bengals’ win over Cleveland.


19.0 T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
17.5 Trey Hendrickson, Cincinnati Bengals
17.5 Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars
17.0 Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers
16.5 Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings
14.5 Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders
14.0 Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
14.0 Micah Parson, Dallas Cowboys

With reaching 19 sacks against the Baltimore, Watt joined his brother J.J., DeMarcus Ware and Mark Gastineau as the only four players in NFL history to have multiple 19-sack seasons. J.J. is the only player to record 20 or more sacks in multiple seasons since sacks became officially tracked in 1982 (20.5 in 2012 and 2014). Ware had 19 sacks or more in 2008 and 2011, while Gastineau did it in 1983 and 1984.

Watt is in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, an award that he won in 2021 when he tied the NFL single-season sack record with Micheal Strahan (22.5 sacks). He is the second player since 1982 with at least 19.0 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, 36 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in the same season. Watt’s the first player to do it twice. In 2021, he won DPOY. His brother J.J. is the only other player to accomplished the feat and he won DPOY in 2014, as well.

Watt suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain on his left knee in the third quarter of Saturday’s game against Baltimore, according to a report by his brother, J.J. Watt of CBS Sports. The injury had originally been reported as a potential Grade 3 sprain, which could have required surgery and would have certainly ruled him out of the rest of the 2023 season.

J.J. Watt said that T.J. Watt will not require surgery, but will only need a few weeks of rest and recovery.

Unfortunately for the Steelers, they might not have a few weeks. The Steelers have clinched a spot in the 2023 NFL playoffs. But they will face elimination in the Wild Card Round next weekend, and will likely do so without Watt’s services.