Despite his injuries, T.J. Watt was a formidable force in 2021. Here’s why the Steelers’ star won Defensive Player of the Year by a landslide, according to Associated Press voters. The NFL Honors 2022 ceremony took place on February 10th. Members of the Associated Press voted on some of the league’s most spectacular players from the season, as they do every year, and several were awarded some of the sport’s top individual distinctions.
Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys was unanimously named Defensive Rookie of the Year, while Ja’Marr Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals was named Offensive Rookie of the Year. The race for the AP Defensive Player of the Year was expected to be tighter, but T.J. Watt has been the clear and obvious frontrunner since tying Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record.
On Thursday night, Watt got the Defensive Player of the Year award for his work in the 2021 season. According to Pro Football Reference, he led the NFL with 22.5 sacks, 21 tackles for a loss, 39 quarterback hits, and 5 forced fumbles in 15 games. Watt’s impact on the defensive side of the ball was unrivaled while he was healthy, and he’s a huge reason the Steelers were able to sneak into the playoffs despite subpar performances from most positions on the squad this past season.
T.J. Watt has joined the Steelers’ exclusive group of players. T.J. Watt joins the ranks of the top defensive players in NFL history after receiving the league’s highest individual distinction for a defensive player. Watt joins Joe Greene (1972–1974), Mel Blount (1975), Jack Lambert (1976), Rod Woodson (1993), James Harrison (2008), and Troy Polamalu as the only Steelers to win DPOY awards in their illustrious history of outstanding defense.
Across the board, this is a Hall of Fame company. T.J. Watt, who is 27 years old, still has a long career ahead of him, and if he can stay healthy, the sky is the limit. When all is said and done, I believe we will refer to him not just as one of the greatest Steelers of all time, but also as one of the finest defenders in NFL history.