PWFA Defensive Player of the Year: Steelers' T.J. Watt gets the award this year

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Few players have built a reputation in the NFL like T.J. Watt. ThePittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker is one of the candidates to become the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year in early February. But that's not all.

Watt was voted the league's 2021 Defensive Player of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America.

The award may be a harbinger for Watt, as six of the last seven PFWA winners also won the AP award, including the Rams star Aaron Donald last year. Watt is the first Steelers player to win the award since James Harrison in 2008. In fact, he also won the AP honor that season.

"After the fact, it's fun to be a part of, but in the season, you don't really have time to think about it," Watt said of individual honors Tuesday on the Pat McAfee Show. "I've told people, early in my career I used to always set individual goals - I want to have 20 sacks, X amount of TFLs, batted passes, all that stuff. Lately, I just found it's better to just kind of have the game-wrecker mentality as a goal, instead, because I was putting too much pressure on myself."

"You're sitting there in Week 3 and you have one sack, or no sacks, and you're trying to reach and get out of gaps and do a whole bunch of crazy, individualistic stuff. And it doesn't help your football team at all. I've gotten away from all the 'I want to be defensive player of the year.' I just want to be the best player I can be week in and week out."

T.J. Watt, the odds-on favorite for the NFL Awards

The official NFL postseason awards ceremony is scheduled for February 10, three days before the Super Bowl. Most sports betting sites have Watt as the favorite to win his first DPOY after tying Michael Strahan's single-season sack record.

Watt started all 15 games he played in, and he had 64 total tackles (48 solo), 21 tackles for loss, 22.5 sacks for minus-111.5 yards, 39 quarterback hits, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He had 11 games with at least one-half sack and eight contests with multiple sacks.

The Steelers outside linebacker was selected as the AFC Defensive Player of the Week three times in Weeks 6, 13 and 17.

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