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T.J. Watt Ties Steelers Sack Record



Steelers Browns T.J. Watt
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt against the San Francisco 49ers, Sept. 10, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt became the team’s co-leader in career sacks in the team’s Sunday game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Watt sacked 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy three times in the first three quarters of Sunday’s game, giving him 80.5 sacks in his career, and bringing him into a first-place tie with James Harrison.

Watt actually started the game in third place in team history at 77.5. Defensive tackle Cam Heyward was second at 78.5. Heyward left the game early with injury.

In addition to the three sacks, Watt forced two fumbles, and he recovered the second one, which came on the record-tying sack.

The 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Watt set the NFL single-season sack record with 22.5 that year. He also led the NFL in sacks with 15 in 2020 and led the league in tackles for loss in both 2020 and 2021.

He missed seven games in 2022 after tearing his pectoral muscle in the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. The injury could have been season-ending, but he battled to return, even though he was not his usual self down the stretch run. He finished 2022 with 5.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss in 1o games.

Sacks have only been an official NFL statistic since 1982. Research by Pro Football Reference says that L.C. Greenwood would have had 78 sacks if they were officially counted in his career.

Harrison broke that mark on Nov. 24, 2016 against the Indianapolis Colts. Jason Gildon previously held the official record. He finished his career with 77.5.

Watt is second to Harrison in career forced fumbles. Harrison finished his Steelers tenure with 33. Watt’s two on Sunday give him 25. His recovery was the eighth of his career, tying him with Harrison for fifth in team history. James Farrior is the all-time leader with 10.

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