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J.J. Watt joins Lawrence Taylor as only back-to-back Defensive Player of Year winners

Watt led the NFL in sacks, tackles for loss, and quarterback hits.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt took home the 2015 Defensive Player of the Year award Saturday night, the second straight season he's been selected as the league's top defender and third time overall in his career.

Watt joins Lawrence Taylor (1981 and 1982) as the only players in league history to receive the DPOY award in back-to-back years. Taylor, who also earned the distinction in 1986, is the only other defender to win the award three different times. Watt, of course, got his three trophies in a span of just four seasons, making his accomplishment even more special.

Even with a broken hand and a groin injury late in the season, Watt remained among the NFL's elite. He was the league leader in sacks (17.5), tackles for loss (29) and quarterback hits (50), and he also forced three fumbles. Watt recorded at least one sack in 10 of 16 regular season games, including a five-game stretch in late October and November during which he amassed a whopping 9.5 sacks.

He was the unquestioned leader of one of the league's best defenses in Houston, which led the NFL in third-down conversion rate and ranked among the top five in total defense, yards per play, and passing yards allowed. During a dominant four-game win streak in November, the Texans allowed just two total touchdowns and held three of those four opponents to single digits.

For Watt, this award caps yet another stellar campaign in his record-breaking career. 2015 marked the third year he's notched at least 15 sacks, matching Reggie White as the lone guys to reach that milestone three times in their first five pro seasons. With 74.5 career sacks, Watt trails only White for the most quarterback takedowns by a player through his first five NFL campaigns.

Watt beat out a strong group of candidates, including Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron DonaldOakland Raiders edge rusher Khalil MackCarolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly and Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu for the award.