Having a record year

When it came to getting after the passer in 2021 the Steelers had a record year, individually and collectively.

Outside linebacker T.J. Watt tied the NFL single-season sacks record at 22.5 (Michael Strahan, New York Football Giants, 2001).

And the Steelers led the NFL with 55 sacks, the fifth consecutive season they've set the pace in that category.

No team had led the NFL in sacks for four consecutive seasons until the Steelers accomplished the feat in 2020.

Following is a look back at five of the most memorable quarterback drops from 2021:

No. 5-Sept. 12, at Buffalo: Off And Running
The first sack of the season produced the first turnover of the season and helped keep the Steelers in striking distance of the Bills and on course to pull off a 23-16, season-opening upset on the road.

Buffalo was in position to potentially build on a 3-0 lead midway through the second quarter. But on third-and-13 from the Steelers' 38-yard line with 8:47 remaining until halftime, Watt got to quarterback Josh Allen for a strip-sack. Defensive tackle Cam Heyward recovered Allen's fumble and the Steelers, temporarily at least, remained within three of the Bills.

It was the first time Watt and Heyward were heard from on a play that provided much-needed splash.

It would not be the last.

Steelers LB T.J. Watt tied the NFL's single season sack record during the 2021 season

No. 4-Oct. 10, Denver: Goal-Line Stand
The Broncos were 5 yards away from tying the game at 10-10 midway through the second quarter. But on second-and-goal from the Steelers' 5 with 7:21 left in the first half, inside linebacker Devin Bush got to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for a sack that wound up costing Denver 12 yards.

The drive-killer helped keep the Broncos out of the end zone and they ultimately settled for a 29-yard field goal and a 10-6 deficit.

That was as close as they'd get the rest of the way in what wound up becoming a 27-19 Steelers' triumph.

No. 3-Nov. 14, Detroit: Working Overtime
The pass rush did what it had to do to preserve what ended up as a disappointing, 16-16 tie with the then-winless Lions.

It could have been worse.

Detroit had a third-and-7 from the Steelers' 41 early in the extra session, but Heyward sacked quarterback Jared Goff for a loss of 9.

When called upon again in OT, the Steelers' pressure delivered again.

This time it was strong safety Terrell Edmunds getting to Goff for a loss of 13 on first-and-10 from the Lions' 45 with 2:25 to play in OT.

The two-for-one overtime special on sacks averted disaster, even if it failed to produce a happy ending.

No. 2-Oct. 17, Seattle: I'll Take That
The Steelers might have tied the Seahawks a month before they tied the Lions, but Watt had a different result in mind.

His strip-sack of quarterback Geno Smith on first-and-10 from the Seattle 15 resulted in a fumble recovery by Bush at the 16.

All that was left to do after that was position kicker Chris Boswell for the game-winning field goal, which Boswell delivered from 37 yards away three snaps later in what became a 23-20 survival of Seattle.

No. 1-Jan. 9, at Baltimore: Record-Tying Effort
Watt initially thought he might have tied the record on what turned out to be scored as an aborted snap in the first quarter and he lost a half sack on a penalty against Heyward in the second quarter.

But one snap after the unnecessary roughness flag against Heyward, Watt was not to be denied.

He got to quarterback Tyler Huntley for a loss of 3 on first-and-goal from the Steelers' 3 with 28 seconds left in the first half.

In addition to tying Strahan, Watt's sack helped limit the Ravens to a field goal and get the Steelers into the locker room tied at 3-3 after 30 minutes in a must-win game they'd win, 16-13, in overtime.