A week after being shut out for the first time all season on the sack sheet, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense came back with a vengeance, posting a season-high six sacks on the day, a total they reached only once all of last season. It was the third time this season in which the Steelers secured five or more sacks, all at home.
Those five sacks came from a total of six different players, including four solo sacks and one split between two defenders. There was also a seventh sack that was negated by a personal foul after Arthur Moats accidentally wrestled Johnny Manziel to the ground by his facemask, nearly turning his head around.
Starting defensive ends Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward each knotted a sack individually, with Tuitt’s bringing his total to a team-leading 4.5 on the year, and Heyward right behind him with four. Though Tuitt only started four games as a rookie, their combined 8.5 sacks already matches their output from last season.
Also notching one sack apiece were the starting inside linebackers, Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons, who now have three and 2.5 sacks individually on the season. With his sack yesterday, Timmons became just the fourth player in team history to record at least 30 sacks to go along with at least 10 interceptions (he is currently at 30.5 and 10 exactly).
Splitting a sack were the starting outside linebackers, Moats and Jarvis Jones, the latter of whom initially collapsed the pocket and forced Manziel to trip over a pile of bodies on the ground.
The mystery sixth sack? Well that was attributed to a ‘team’ sack, which occurred on the first play from scrimmage for the Browns, when Manziel let the football trickle out of his grasp as he cocked his arm back to pass. The ball was recovered in the air by Moats for the first of three turnovers the defense forced on the day.
With their six sacks today, the Steelers jump up all the way to 28 on the season after drawing a blank for the first time the week before. That launches them all the way up to sole possession of fourth place in terms of total sacks accumulated, trailing only the Broncos leading the way with 32, New England with 30, and the Rams with 29.
It is important to mention that the Steelers are one of few teams who have already played 10 games, as they are finally going on their bye week after this past game. They should expect to drop a few notches in the overall rankings, such that is it relevant to compare sack totals between teams. The Bengals, who play tomorrow night, have 23 sacks, but only eight games played.
There is nobody better to compare to right now, however, than the 2014 Steelers, who finished the year with 33 totals sacks. The Steelers could average a sack per game for the rest of the year and surpass that total now. At the moment, they are on pace for 45 sacks, their most by some stretch since the last time they made the Super Bowl in 2010, when they led the league with 48 sacks.