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Steelers’ T.J. Watt snubbed for 2023 Defensive Player of the Year, Myles Garrett wins

We demand a recount of the votes. The math ain’t mathin’.

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T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Acrisure Stadium on December 23, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt was snubbed for 2023-24 AP Defensive Player of the Year despite an incredibly successful campaign, losing out to AFC North rival edge rusher Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns. The debate between the two had been a hotly contested one throughout the season — one that ultimately fell in favor of Garrett, who won the award for the first time in his career.

There’s no denying that Garrett had an outstanding 2023 season. He finished the year with 14 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Garret finished out with 23 first-place votes for Defensive Player of the Year, while Watt received the second-most first-place votes among defenders with 19.

Still, it was Watt who walked away leading the NFL in sacks (19) — for the third time in his career, mind you — becoming the first player to accomplish such a feat since the league officially started tracking the stat in 1982. He outpaced Garrett in most statistical categories this season, outside of pass-rush win rate, where Garrett led the league at 27.8% per PFF. Watt ranked 26th in the category with a 16.2% pass rush win rate.

Regardless, Watt had the edge in most other quantifiable categories, having become the second defender ever to rank top-five in the NFL in sacks (19), QB hits (36), tackles for loss (19), forced fumbles (4) and fumble recoveries (3), Teresa Varley of notes. The first player to do it? His brother, J.J. Watt, back in 2012. Watt outpaced Garrett in each of those categories, except forced fumbles — a category in which they tied, each having notched four on the season.

T.J. Watt vs. Myles Garrett (2023)

Stat T.J. Watt Myles Garrett
Stat T.J. Watt Myles Garrett
Sacks 19 17
Batted passes 6 3
Forced fumbles 4 4
Fumble recoveries 3 1
Tackles for a loss 19.00 17.00
Pass rush win% 16.20% 27.80%
Passes defensed 8 3
Interceptions 1 0
Defensive TDs 1 0

Watt was named a finalist for the award at the end of January, along with Garrett, Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland and linebacker Micah Parsons, as well as Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby, though most NFL analysts suspected it would boil down to a race between Watt and Garrett.

Unfortunately, Watt will have to wait at least one more season before joining Steelers legend Mean Joe Greene as the only two Pittsburgh defenders in history to win DPOY more than once in their career.

Watt was named 2023 AFC Defensive Player of the Year by the NFL Committee of 101 in January, the nation’s longest-running awards event solely covering the NFL, also being named Defensive Player of the Year by analysts at NFL Network. Watt’s campaign also earned him First-Team All-Pro honors for the fourth time.