Career day puts T.J. Watt in very elite company, gives him shot at single-season sack record

As of late Friday afternoon, it was widely believed that Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt would miss Sunday’s game against the Ravens due to a positive COVID test from a week ago. As of late Sunday afternoon, Watt was creating havoc.

Unexpectedly cleared after an absence of only five days, Watt had a career-high 3.5 sacks against Baltimore, despite not practicing. He also didn’t bite on the fake handoff on the game-deciding two-point try, getting in the face of quarterback Lamar Jackson and forcing his hand on a throw that went off the hand of tight end Mark Andrews.

And here’s the biggest development of the day. Watt now has a career-high 16 sacks. He also has four straight seasons of 13 or more sacks. Only one other player has done that. His name is Reggie White.

With five games left, Watt needs only 6.5 sacks to tie the all-time single-season sack record of 22.5.

Can he do it? Indeed he can. He has 16 sacks in only 10 games (the Steelers lost both games he missed). At that rate, he’ll get eight in the final five. And that means he’ll finish with 24.0 sacks.

Even though the Steelers have struggled in 2021, they’d be struggling even more without Watt, who should be regarded as the favorite to win defensive player of the year and who quite possibly should get some MVP votes if he breaks Michael Strahan’s asterisk-stained record and wills the Steelers to the postseason.