The 2022 NFL Honors announced the winner of their Defensive Player of the Year award, and to the surprise of no one, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt took home the honors. After a nearly record-breaking season, Watt was the odds-on favorite to win the award for most of the year. He is now only the second Steeler to ever win the award, with the other being James Harrison in 2008. Watt was also awarded PFN’s Defensive Player of the Year.
T.J. Watt wins NFL Defensive Player of the Year
Once the season ended, the accolades came pouring in for Watt. In addition to being named the NFL Honors Defensive Player of the Year, he added Pro Football Writers of America Defensive Player of the Year, 101 Awards AFC Defensive Player of the Year, and Pro Football Writers All-NFL team.
Watt led the league in sacks for the second year in a row and actually tied Hall of Famer Michael Strahan’s NFL single-season record with 22.5 sacks. He was able to do so even though he missed two games due to an injury. According to Steelers.com, Watt is one of only two players in NFL history to have 20+ sacks in 14 or fewer games since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
Watt receives high praise from competitor
The race for this award came down to two people, Watt and Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald. It was a pretty good indication that Watt was going to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year when Donald himself argued that Watt could also challenge for the league MVP.
“A lot of great defensive players that have the stats. You know, you got a guy like T.J. Watt that got all them stats this year and it made a lot of production in a short amount of time, and he only played, you know — [he didn’t play] every single game this year,” Donald said. “That’s a guy you can talk like, he can probably be an MVP this year.”
With 72 career sacks in his first five seasons, Watt is always a dominant presence when he is on the field. Now, Watt has his first Defensive Player of the Year award. He needs another two to tie his brother J.J. Watt.