Pittsburgh Steelers' T.J. Watt ties NFL's single-season sack record
After becoming the NFL's highest-paid defensive player this offseason, T.J. Watt reinforced his value with a historic on-field performance.
The Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker tied Michael Strahan's single-season sack record on Sunday notching one to give him 22 ½ on the year.
Watt tied the mark in the second quarter of Sunday's contest against the Baltimore Ravens when he took down quarterback Tyler Huntley.
Strahan set the all-time high (sacks did not become an official NFL stat until 1982) in 2001, when the league still had a 16-game season. However, Watt has only played in 15 games this season, missing two contests and part of another due to injury.
Watt began the year on a tear, recording 13 ½ sacks through the first 10 weeks of the season. His opportunity to make history did not become clear, however, until he recorded four sacks against Cleveland Browns Baker Mayfield last Monday to put himself within striking distance of the record.
"I only get one chance at this," Watt told reporters last week. "You only get to play for so long. It has consumed a lot of my life and I'm completely OK with that. The people around me truly push me and understand my obsession with this game and wanting to be the best."
A first-round selection of the Steelers out of Wisconsin in 2017, Watt entered the NFL in the shadow of older brother J.J. Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the Houston Texans. But the younger Watt didn't remain there for long, as he has been a Pro Bowl selection every season for the past four years and has annually improved on his sack total.
After T.J. Watt tied the record on Sunday, J.J. Watt tweeted: "No words. Just proud."
And after narrowly losing out on the award last year to Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, T.J. Watt now looks poised to join his brother as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.