Steelers’ appeal to give TJ Watt NFL sack record denied, passer remains tied with Michael Strahan
Heading into Week 18, all TJ Watt needed was a sack to tie himself in the history books with Michael Strahan for the all-time single-season record at 22.5. For a minute, it looked like the Pittsburgh pass thrower made quick work of this historic venture, dropping Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley’s football in the first quarter on Sunday.
Immediately after the play, the takedown was treated as if Watt had linked up with Strahan over the record. However, Baltimore statisticians ultimately ruled the sloppy snap between Huntley and center Bradley Bozeman an abortive play with Watt credited for a tackle for loss and a forced fumble, but no sack.
Watt was eventually able to fire Huntley in the second quarter to tie the single-season record, so he was still able to hit the mark. That said, the Steelers appealed to the Elias Athletic Office, which has the final say in such circumstances, about this first out. That appeal, the team confirmed to Pro Football Talk, was dismissed.
If Elias had ruled differently, Watt would have broken the record entirely, albeit in a rather boring way. Of course, the sack record is no stranger to controversy as Strahan broke the record as Packers quarterback Brett Favre seemed to fall in front of him, which paved the way for the withdrawal.
While Watt may not have the record all to himself, those 22.5 sacks should earn him the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award for the first time in his career.