NFL sack record: How T.J. Watt can break Michael Strahan’s single-season total in Week 18

For years, Michael Strahan’s sack record has felt like one of those records that would take a long time to fall.

Several players have approached. Jared Allen and Justin Houston had seasons with 22 sacks each, just half a sack behind tying the record. However, since 2001, that has been the closest anyone has ever been.

Made with Flourish

Through 2021. Steelers linebacker TJ Watt enters the final week of the season with 21.5 sacks after an impressive four-sack performance against the Browns in his final game. Now he needs just one sack to tie the record, and 1.5 sacks against the Ravens on Sunday to set the record. Perhaps most impressive, while the league added an additional game to the schedule, potentially adding an asterisk to other record performances going forward, Watt has played in just 14 games this season, meaning that if he set the record, he would accomplish the feat. in fewer games than Strahan.

Sporting News dives into Watt’s record and remarkable season to reach this point in the season.

What is the NFL season sack record?

In 2001, Strahan had a season to remember. He had 22.5 sacks in a single season.

While some will claim that Al Baker holds the record with 23 sacks recorded in 2003, the statistic was not officially counted at the time, making the record unofficial and Strahan the mark to beat.

Watt is hitting a true streak on both records, official and unofficial, with his season in 2021. Before their showdown in Week 17, his catch production had slowed as he was only 1.5 from Weeks 14 to 16, which began to question whether he could reach the milestone. But he set his best record in a single game with his four sacks against Cleveland, jumping back into the conversation for the record.

Made with Flourish

The year Strahan set the record, he had one game with four sacks and two additional games with at least three. During the season, he had three games in which he left the quarterback intact and seven games in which he reached the quarterback by just a half or a full sack.

Watt has three games with at least three sacks, including last Sunday against Cleveland, and he has had four games in which he did not sack the opposing QB. He has had only two games where he recorded only one

TJ Watt’s Lost Games

The addition of Game 17 to the season has cast doubt on how the records will be evaluated going forward. It will be an additional opportunity for each player to increase their counting stats, giving players the opportunity not only to chase past single season records a little more easily, but also to reach career totals in fewer seasons.

If Watt reaches the record against the Ravens, there would be no reason to question his production per game. Watt missed the Steelers’ Week 3 game against the Bengals with a groin injury and the Week 11 game against the Chargers with hip and knee injuries, meaning he will end the season with 15 games. . Strahan and Baker played in 16 games during their record seasons.

This season, Watt has averaged 1.54 sacks per game, which ESPN Stats & Info lists as the second-best rate of a season since the stat was tallied.

If he reached 23, his average would actually drop to just 1.53, a testament to the remarkable season he’s had. To beat Reggie White’s record, he would have to hit 26.5 sacks this season, bringing his average to 1.77 per game. That would require you to record five sacks in one game, which, according to Stathead, it has only been done 18 times.

TJ Watt as Defensive Player of the Year?

At this point, it feels like a foregone conclusion that Watt will be named the AP Defensive Player of the Year.

According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Watt is a minus 2000 favorite to be named the winner, with Cowboys rookie linebacker Micah Parsons second with over 1000.

If Watt is named the winner, he will join his older brother, JJ Watt (three-time winner), as the only pair of siblings to win the honor.

Watt’s season, now on the verge of being historic, has cast doubt on whether he should be a strong candidate for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. While his season has been remarkable, it would cost him a lot to receive AP NFL MVP honors.

Only two defensive players have been named MVP: Alan Page (1971) and Lawrence Taylor (1986). The year Page won the honors, he had three fumbles recovered and two safes. When Taylor won the award, he was leading the league with 20.5 sacks, which at the time was officially the second-most in a season, behind only Mark Gastineau’s 22 in 1984.

When Strahan set the sack record, the only defensive player to receive MVP votes was linebacker Brian Urlacher even though Strahan had been named DPOY. Rams quarterback Kurt Warner won the MVP.

Here are the only defensive players since then to receive MVP votes:

Year Player Position Votes Winner
2002 Derrick Brooks pound one Rich Gannon, quarterback
2003 ray lewis pound two Peyton Manning, quarterback
2008 james harrison pound 3 Peyton Manning, quarterback
2014 JJ Watt Delaware 13 Aaron Rodgers, quarterback
2014 bobby wagner Delaware one Aaron Rodgers, quarterback

Historically, defensive players don’t get a lot of love for this award. FanDuel Sportsbook does not currently list the odds of him being named MVP.