Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt came out of the gates hot in 2023, showing why he is a nightmare for opposing offensive coordinators.
Watt leads the NFL with six sacks through three games, and it doesn’t stop there. He also leads the league in quarterback hits with 12, and is tied for the lead with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
That is why Watt was selected as the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for September.
“I am just blessed to go to war with that guy every week,” said fellow linebacker Alex Highsmith. “He makes me better. To see his process, what he does. There is a reason he is who he is. He is the best in the world at what he does. Just to go to battle with him every week is awesome.”
Watt’s stat line for the month is ridiculous.
Six sacks, 11 tackles, nine of them solo stops, 12 quarterback hits, five tackles for a loss, two passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries, including one he returned 16 yards for a touchdown. And, to top it off, he became the Steelers all-time sack leader in September.
Watt is the first player to record six sacks and register a defensive touchdown in a team’s first three games of a season since 1982, when the individual sack became an official recognized statistic by the NFL.
Watt recorded three sacks in the Steelers home opener against the San Francisco 49ers and added a sack against the Cleveland Browns, which broke the Steelers all-time sack record, which was held by James Harrison, with 81.5 career sacks at the time.
Harrison was at Acrisure Stadium when Watt broke the record, wanting to see Watt break it in person, and shared his take on it.
“It’s great,” said Harrison. “That is the whole reason I came, so I could be here in person to see it. Records are meant to be broken and that was one I was happy to see go down, especially watching it here.
“It’s simple. It’s guys that played here wanting to see guys that are currently playing do better and greater things than what the previous group did and holding up what that Steelers’ lore is.”
Against the Raiders, Watt added two more sacks for his second multiple sack game of the season.
“T.J., you can’t think of another guy that impacts the game more,” said Houston Texans Coach DeMeco Ryans, whose team has to try and find a way to contain Watt this week. “He is probably the most impactful defensive player in the league right now. Leading the league in sacks and pressures.
“When you have one guy who can pressure and disrupt the quarterback, it just changes the entire scheme of things defensively. You don’t have to blitz as much because you have a guy like T.J. Watt.”
This is the fourth time Watt has won the honor, previously doing so during the 2020 season (September and November) and once in 2019 (November).
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