In Week 12, the Pittsburgh Steelers' offense finally hit its stride, matching their consistently stellar defense performance throughout the season. This defensive prowess, led by the Steelers' formidable unit, has driven the team's ascent into playoff contention.
With a remarkable record of not allowing any team to score 20 points in their last seven matchups, the Steelers have secured a 5-2 record in this period. This defensive success comes even amidst offensive struggles, compelling head coach Mike Tomlin to replace the offensive coordinator recently.
At the forefront of this defensive dominance is T.J. Watt, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, who is currently tied for the league's top spot with 13.5 sacks. Watt's impressive statistics include 25 quarterback hits, 12 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, six defended passes, and an interception.
His impact extends beyond the field, as Tomlin highlighted Watt's work ethic and ability to maximize his talents as exemplary, not just for the defense but for the entire team.
Watt: Unmatched Defensive Force
In a statement on the team's official website, Tomlin lauded Watt's consistency and impact, declaring him "the best defensive player on the planet right now." He emphasized Watt's crucial contributions in every game, underscoring his undeniable value to the team.
Watt's partnership with the underrated Alex Highsmith has been instrumental in the Steelers' push for a playoff spot despite being outscored by 23 net points over 11 games. Watt's recent performance against Cincinnati, where he achieved two sacks, marked his 20th career game with more than one sack.
He is on the brink of tying his brother, J.J. Watt, for the fifth-most games with multiple sacks in a player's first seven seasons. Tomlin also noted Watt's challenges as opponents continuously strategize to limit his impact.
Yet, Watt's resilience and skill shine through, consistently proving his vital role in the Steelers' success. Looking ahead, Watt's track record in December games is remarkable. In his 29 career games in December, he has accumulated 21.5 sacks, 48 quarterback hits, and nine forced fumbles, indicating that the best of Watt's season may still be ahead.
This potent combination of tenacious defense and an awakening offense positions the Steelers as a formidable force as they continue their playoff pursuit.