In what is likely his final season in the NFL, James Harrison has given himself a chance to set one more Pittsburgh Steelers’ record.
With his three sack outburst Sunday night, Harrison now trails Jason Gildon by 2.5 sacks to tie the franchise record for career sacks. Three, of course, to break it.
For a large part of the season, it seemed he would fall just shy of Gildon’s all-time mark. But he went on a rampage in the fourth quarter Sunday, reopening the discussion of whether or not he’d break it.
Although there will still be a rotation at outside linebacker, as there’s been all season, Mike Tomlin won’t shy away from the hot-hand approach.
“You gotta acknowledge [Harrison] had a big football game. But we all know James is capable of that…we acknowledge that sometimes we’re going to get in a stadium and someone is gong to have a hot hand or display a hot hand. Or a matchup, A physical matchup is going to lend itself to someone’s skillset versus someone else’s skillset,” Tomlin told the media during yesterday’s press conference.
And that’s a large reason why Harrison dominated the snaps Sunday. For the first half, there was a typical rotation between he and Jarvis Jones. As Harrison began to find his groove, Jones was sent to the sidelines, not playing a single defensive snap over the last 20 minutes of the game. That won’t be a common theme but it’s a realization that even at 37, Harrison can play like a guy ten years his junior.
The number is skewed because stats weren’t an officially recorded statistic until 1982 but Harrison and Gildon are the only two Steelers in the 70 sack club. Only one other, Joey Porter, has at least 60. If Harrison breaks the record, don’t hold your breath to see it broken anytime soon. The next active sack leader behind Deebo is Cameron Heyward’s 20.
Harrison will have two solid opportunities to get closer and break that record over the next month. He’ll face the Denver Broncos’ Ryan Harris two weeks from now and the Baltimore Ravens’ James Hurst the week after that. Both are below average left tackles. In the other two games, he’ll square off versus the Cincinnati Bengals’ Andrew Whitworth and the Cleveland Browns’ Joe Thomas, two of the best in the league.
So I ask you, dear reader, will Harrison break Gildon’s record?