Arizona Cardinals Defensive Lineman Watt Shines in Final Game

Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt bid farewell to the NFL in Week 18 against the San Francisco 49ers, and it was a bittersweet day. The superstar had one of his best games of the year, tallying 2.0 sacks, three tackles for loss, and a pass deflection in a 38-13 loss. Watt announced his intention to retire following this season in late December. He'll end his career on a high note with his best season since 2018, totalling 12.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, and seven pass deflections.

At the height of his powers, Watt was an unstoppable defensive force like the NFL has seldom seen. He is the only player in NFL history to log 20+ sacks in multiple seasons and is one of only three players to win Defensive Player of the Year three times, the others being Lawrence Taylor and Aaron Donald. 

Watt's talents extended way beyond pass rushing: as well as logging 20.5 sacks, he totalled a league-record 39 tackles for loss and 16 passes defended in his preposterous 2012 season. Watt's 29 tackles for loss in 2014 and 2015 also both rank second and third all-time.

With five Pro Bowls and five first-team All-Pros, Watt's peak arguably exceeds any defensive player in NFL history. If not for injury struggles over the back half of his career, he might have gone down on the short list of the greatest players the NFL has ever known. He'll have to settle for a likely first-ballot induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame six years from now.
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