NFL sack record: How TJ Watt can beat Michael Strahan’s single-season tally in week 18

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

Several players have come closer. Jared Allen and Justin Houston each had seasons with 22 sacks in one season, just half a sack behind to tie the record. Yet since 2001 it has been as close as anyone has come.

Made with flourish

Until 2021. Steelers linebacker TJ Watt begins the final week of the season with 21.5 sacks after an impressive four-sack performance against the Browns in his final game. He now only needs one sack to tie the record and 1.5 sacks against the Ravens on Sunday to set the record. Perhaps most impressive, as the league added an extra game to the schedule, potentially adding an asterisk to other record-breaking performances in the future, Watt has only played 14 games this season, which means s ‘he was setting the record, he would achieve the feat in fewer games than Strahan.

Sporting News dives into the record and the remarkable season achieved by Watt to reach this point of the season.

What’s the NFL single-season sack record?

In 2001 Strahan had an unforgettable season. He recorded 22.5 sacks in a single season.

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

Watt is making a real run for two records – official and unofficial – with his season in 2021. Prior to his Week 17 match, his sack production had slowed down as he was only 1.5 from Weeks 14 to 16. who began to question whether he could reach the milestone. But he established a better game in one game with all four of his sacks against Cleveland, getting back into the conversation for the record straight away.

Made with flourish

In the year Strahan set the record, he played one game with four sacks and two more games with at least three. Over the season, he’s had three games where he left the quarterback untouched and seven games where he reached the quarterback for just a half-sack or a full sack.

Watt has three games with at least three sacks – including last Sunday against Cleveland – and has had four games where he hasn’t sacked the opposing QB. He only had two games where he recorded only one

TJ Watt’s missed matches

The addition of the 17th game of the season called into question how records will be assessed in the future. This will be an extra chance for each player to add to their counting stats, giving players a chance not only to chase previous records from a single season a little easier, but also to achieve fewer career totals. of seasons.

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

This season, Watt is averaging 1.54 sacks per game, which ESPN Stats & Info lists as the second-best rate in a single season since the statistic was counted.

If he were 23, his average would drop to just 1.53, a testament to the remarkable season he has had. In order to surpass Reggie White’s record, he would need to hit 26.5 sacks this season, which would average 1.77 per game. This would require him to register five sacks in a game, which, according to Stathead, has only been done 18 times.

TJ Watt for Defensive Player of the Year?

At this point, it seems certain that Watt will be named AP Defensive Player of the Year.

According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Watt is an under-2000 favorite to be named the winner, with Cowboys rookie linebacker Micah Parsons second at 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 each win the honor.

Watt’s season, now on the verge of being historic, has called into question whether he should be a strong contender for the NFL MVP. Although his season was remarkable, it would take him a long time 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 top honors, he had three fumbles and two saves. When Taylor won the award, he led the league with 20.5 sacks, which at the time was officially the second-most in a season behind Mark Gastineau’s 22 in 1984.

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

Here are the only defensive players since then to have received votes for the MVP:

Year Player Position Votes Winner
2002 Derrick brooks KG 1 Rich Gannon, QB
2003 Ray lewis KG 2 Peyton Manning, QB
2008 James harrison KG 3 Peyton Manning, QB
2014 Jj watt OF 13 Aaron Rodgers, QB
2014 Bobby wagner OF 1 Aaron Rodgers, QB

Historically, defensive players don’t get much love for this price. FanDuel Sportsbook does not currently list odds for him to be named MVP.

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