T.J. Watt is the much-deserved AFC Defensive Player of the Week
By Tommy Jaggi
The Pittsburgh Steelers got a remarkable performance out of T.J. Watt in Week 7. Here’s why he recently earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
It took a bit longer than Steelers fans have come to expect, but T.J. Watt was finally awarded the AFC Defensive Player in the Week thanks to a stellar performance against the Seattle Seahawks.
In Week 7 on Sunday Night Football, Watt’s presence was felt on this national spotlight game. He earned 7 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 2.0 sacks, 3 pass defenses, and a forced fumble, via ESPN. However, his biggest plays of the game came in overtime when the Steelers really needed someone to step up to the plate.
On Seattle’s first drive in the extra period, Watt came up with a huge third-down sack that pushed Geno Smith and the Seahawks offense well out of range of trying to go for it on fourth down.
After Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers failed to do anything with their position, Seattle got the ball back — this time, any score would have won the game. Fortunately, Pittsburgh has one of the best defensive players in the league on their team. Despite being triple-teamed, Watt saw Smith taking off in the pocket and was able to punch the ball out. The recovery by Devin Bush sealed the game as Pittsburgh was already in field goal range.
More to come from Steelers star T.J. Watt
This is hardly the first time that T.J. Watt received this award, as he frequented AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors over the past two seasons. In fact, Watt fell just shy of earning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2019 and 2020.
Statistically, Watt is picking up right where he left off. However, thanks to some remarkable defensive performances around the league early in the season, he’s almost a longshot to win the Defensive Player of the Year award at this point in time.
Still, I would not put it past him to change those odds in a hurry. Despite missing a game with a groin injury and playing through injuries in a few other contests, Watt has still managed to rake in 7 sacks, 7 tackles for a loss, 3 forced fumbles, 3 pass defenses, 12 quarterback hits, and 20 pressures in just 5 games so far this season, according to Pro Football Reference.
Even with the injuries early in 2021, Watt has proved to be worth every penny of his $112 million contract extension he signed just before the season.
When Watt is healthy, he makes as big of a difference as any defender in the league, and he will single-handedly help keep the Steelers in football games this season. I fully expect him to land on this list a few more times before the year is over with.