Michael Strahan's sack record, long debated for how he broke it, was tied in an extra game Strahan didn't have.
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt tied Strahan's sack record in his team's 17th game this season. Watt finished with 22.5 sacks. Strahan's record of 22.5 sacks came in 16 games back in 2001. Strahan's record was set under controversial circumstances, when Brett Favre rolled into Strahan and gave him an easy sack to beat Mark Gastineau's record.
Watt's new record begins a new era of qualifying any major record that is set in the extra game. This is the first time the NFL has played 17 games in a regular season.
Watt looked like a he might have the record after he hit Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley on a fumbled shotgun snap in the first quarter, but it was not counted as a sack. He got his only sack of the game in the second quarter on a first-and-goal play for Baltimore.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lobbied the NFL after the game to give Watt at least a half of a sack. Roethlisberger said "Hopefully the NFL gives T.J. Watt a half a sack" unprompted at the end of three unrelated answers during his media conference following the win.
Watt had an outstanding season, even if he tied the record with an extra game. He had 21.5 sacks after a monster four-sack game against the Cleveland Browns in Week 17. He became an overwhelming favorite for NFL defensive player of the year after that game. Even without the extra game Watt moved to fifth all-time in a single season (though there's a qualification there too; sacks didn't become an official stat in 1982). Jared Allen, Justin Houston and Gastineau all posted a 22-sack season. Watt has had an obvious all-pro season, even if we argue over whether it's fair to have 17-game records be compared to 16-game records.
Watt's brother J.J. had some fun on Twitter when his brother tied the record:
Got the All-Time NFL Sack Record on one play, got kneed in the nuts on the next play.
Life comes at ya fast @_TJWatt
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 9, 2022
J.J. won defensive player of the year three times, and T.J. is in line for his first. It's just that tying the sack record will come with the qualifier that he had one more game to do it. But, Strahan's record had plenty of questions surrounding it too.