Why T.J. Watt was denied outright NFL sack record despite tackling Tyler Huntley for loss

There is good news and bad news regarding TJ Watt’s bet on the record for sacks in an NFL season.

The good news: He tied the record for Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, finishing at 22.5 on the season after a one-sack effort against the AFC North rivals Ravens. The bad news is that he was denied an all-time sack record, even after forcing a fumble to Baltimore quarterback Tyler Huntley in the Steelers’ first defensive outing of the game.

Here’s the play in question, which seemed to show Watt tying Strahan with 22.5 sacks on the season. Adding to the enormity of the play is the fact that Watt released the ball from Huntley’s hands and gave Pittsburgh the ball at the Baltimore 28-yard line after a Henry Mondeaux recovery:

Except the play wasn’t officially declared a sack. That’s because center Bradley Bozeman released the cross, meaning Huntley was credited with a fumble recovery as soon as he picked up the ball. That made him a running back in the backfield, even though Watt managed to hit him in the backfield for loss and fumble.

Even if Watt is not credited with the sack, the play turned out to be immensely important to the Steelers. The fumble allowed Pittsburgh to kick a field goal to get on the board first, 3-0. The game eventually went into overtime tied at 13-13. The Steelers forced a defensive stoppage in the extra quarter before quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dropped Pittsburgh for a kickoff field goal.

The victory also ensured that the Steelers will reach the playoffs after a surprising surprise from the Colts’ Jaguars. The Steelers will be the 7th seed against Kansas City, the 2nd seed as long as the Chargers vs. Raiders did not end in a draw on “Sunday Night Football.”

It wasn’t all bad for Watt either – he finally got that elusive catch just before the end of the first half, hitting Huntley for a 3-yard loss at first-and-goal. The Ravens series finally concluded with a 24-yard field goal to tie the game 3-3 at the half.

Now, Watt, who entered the discussion about the all-time sack record after a four-sack performance against the Browns in Week 17, now shares one of the most impressive season records in the NFL with a player. of the Hall of Fame. While Watt’s sack total comes during the extended 17-game NFL season, he played just 15 games in 2021 due to injuries. His 1.5 sacks-per-game pace actually surpasses Strahan’s season-high 1.41 sacks-per-game mark in 2002.

Strahan, of course, got his record against Green Bay, with former quarterback Brett Favre rolling directly into his path before falling to the ground in surrender.

Just another similarity between two top NFL defenders.