PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Month for the third time in his career.
Watt continues to build off the momentum he gained as a Defensive Player of the Year finalist in 2019. Through 12 weeks, he leads the NFL in sacks with 11, including 5.5 in November, and racked up 19 tackles and 17 quarterback hits throughout the month.
The Steelers' defense continues to protect their perfect record, holding the Baltimore Ravens to just 14 points in Week 12. Watt's success has shown all season, as he's been named Defensive Player of the Week once before taking home Player of the Month.
Still, Watt's focus is on team success.
"We've said from the very start we want to make plays, we want to be great," Watt said. "We don't really care who makes the plays, as long as they are being made. This isn't a defense where you can really play out of your gap and try to do too much. That is why we are playing our best, because everybody is playing their gap and everybody is doing their job."
Watt lost his running mate Bud Dupree in Week 12 after a torn ACL. Dupree was placed on Injured Reserved, moving rookie Alex Highsmith into the starting role. This will be the first time Watt finishes a season without Dupree.
Head coach Mike Tomlin believes the change of teammate will show no impact on Watt.
"I don't think T.J. Watt gets assistance from anyone in terms of his quality of his play," Tomlin said. "T.J. makes his plays. I don't think that's going to be an issue at all. Guys like T.J. don't depend on anyone."
Watt's last AFC Defensive Player of the Month award came in September of 2020. His first came in November of 2019