T.J. Watt’s marvelous destruction of Baker Mayfield and the Browns’ offensive line Monday night in the Steelers’ 26-14 win nudged the Pittsburgh pass rusher ever so close to breaking Michael Strahan’s official all-time sack record.
Watt blew up Baker four times Monday night, bringing his season-high total sacks to 21.5, one behind Strahan’s 22.5.
The 27-year-old said he’s not focused on generating records. He just wants to destroy offensive plans.
“The first year or two, I used to do big individual goals: ‘X’ amount of sacks, TFLs [tackles for loss], all that stuff,” Watt said, via the Washington Post. “But it adds too much pressure. You start chasing and all that stuff. And now it’s just trying to affect every game the best that I can. … It’s been working for me. So I’m not really looking at goals like that anymore, just trying to be a game-wrecker.”
Wreck the game Monday night he did.
Watt’s four sacks were the most in a game by a Steelers player since Joey Porter had four in Week 6, 2001, at the Buccaneers. He also racked up five total tackles, five QB hits, three tackles for loss, two batted balls, six QB pressures (18.8%), and a partridge in a pear tree.
The Steelers’ game-wrecker became the 12th player since sacks were recorded to take the QB down at least 20 times in a single season (J.J. Watt, has done it twice). T.J. Watt joined HOF’er Reggie White and his brother as the only players since individual sacks became official in 1982 with 70-plus sacks over their first five NFL seasons.
With one game remaining, Watt has a chance to break Strahan’s record, which has stood since 2001 when he surpassed Mark Gastineau’s 22.0 sacks (1984). (A Pro Football Reference study noted the Lions’ Al Baker notched 23.0 sacks in 1978 before the NFL officially tracked the stat.)
Watt missed two games earlier this season — and sat out most of a third — due to injury, which softens chatter that he could set the sack record in the first NFL season with 17 games. Strahan played all 16 games in 2001, famously breaking the record when Brett Favre curled into a ball with under three minutes remaining and the Packers leading the Giants by nine points.
In Week 18, Watt faces a Baltimore Ravens offense that has allowed 54 sacks this season, an NFL high, and 199 pressures, tied for most in the league.
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