HOUSTON – Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt has been named the 2015 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Watt, who also won the award in 2012 and unanimously in 2014, joins Lawrence Taylor (1981, 1982 and 1986) as the only players in NFL history to win the award three times. Watt is also the second player in league history to win the award in back-to-back seasons (Taylor).
The accolade is the latest in a growing list of honors for Watt, who was named to the Pro Bowl, Associated Press NFL All-Pro First Team and PFWA All-NFL team for the fourth consecutive year following another dominant season. Watt also won the PFWA Defensive Player of the Year award for the third time and became the first player in NFL history to win that award in back-to-back seasons.
The 26-year-old defensive end finished the 2015 season leading the NFL in sacks (17.5), tackles for loss (29) and quarterback hits (50). Watt also recorded 76 tackles (57 solo), eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery on the way to a third AFC South Division title for the Texans in the last five years. His sack total ranks as the third-highest single-season mark in franchise history behind his 20.5 sacks in 2012 and 2014.
Watt had six multi-sack (2.0-or-more) games in 2015 and now has 21 such games in his career, the second-most of any player in the NFL over his first five seasons in league history. Watt also put together his third career 15.0-sack season, the second-most in the NFL since 1982. Reggie White is the only other player to notch three 15.0-sack seasons in his first five years in the league.
The 2011 first-round pick from Wisconsin passed Derrick Thomas (66.0) for the second-most career sacks in a player's first five seasons in NFL history and became the second-fastest player in NFL history to reach 70.0 sacks (Reggie White, 57 games). Since entering the league in 2011, Watt leads the NFL in sacks (74.5), tackles for loss (132) and quarterback hits (209). The 2015 season was Watt's fourth-straight season with 10.0-or-more sacks, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. He also became the first player in team history with four seasons (2012-15) of 10.0-or-more sacks.
Watt finished with 3.0 sacks in Week 17 vs. Jacksonville and had six tackles for loss in Week 1 vs. Kansas City, both tying single-game career highs. Additionally, Watt's 10 quarterback hits in Week 8 vs. Tennessee set a new single-game career-high. Watt has now posted two straight seasons with 50-or-more quarterback hits and four straight (2012-15) with 40-or-more. His last four seasons are currently the top four single-season quarterback hit totals since 2006.
Watt was selected to the PFWA All-NFL team for a fourth-consecutive year, the longest current streak among active players, and joined Adrian Peterson as the only unanimous All-Pro selections this season. In 2015, Houston's defense finished third in the NFL in yards allowed per game (310.2), third in pass yards allowed per game (210.4), fifth in sacks (franchise-record 45.0), tied for third in passes defensed (90) and tied for seventh in points allowed per game (19.6).
J.J. Watt--from his time as a Texan back to his Wisconsin Badger days--is featured here in photos.