Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers veteran linebacker James Harrison will once again have a chance to at least tie the franchise’s all-time sack record. In fact, he’ll have a chance to do it against the team that he recorded his very first sack against way back in 2004. With that said, Harrison will more than likely have to beat his long-time nemesis, Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, in order to set that record.
While Harrison’s first career sack came against the Browns, he’s only registered 4.5 quarterback takedowns against Cleveland since then in the 17 games that he’s dressed for. Within those numbers is the fact that Harrison has had very little success against Thomas.
I went back through all of Harrison’s sacks against the Browns dating back to 2007, Thomas’ first year in the league, and in reality, the one that you see below in the 2010 win over the Browns is the most impressive one he’s had against the Cleveland left tackle. Even so, that sack was a 0-yard sack of Browns quarterback Colt McCoy and it came with 1:20 left in the game that the Steelers were leading 28-10.
While Harrison is expected to start Sunday against the Browns, he’s still likely to rotate snaps with Jarvis Jones on the right side just the same. That will likely result in Harrison’s losing some pass rush opportunities in the game.
In Harrison’s favor, however, is the fact that Thomas has been battling a minor knee injury for several weeks now. On top of that is the fact that Thomas looked almost mortal-like in the Browns Thursday night Week 10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and especially against linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is 34 years old and playing through a bicep injury.
Heading into Sunday, Harrison’s most impressive career sack against the Browns was probably him slamming a drunk Cleveland fan to the turf on Christmas Eve, 2005. With 2016 likely to be Harrison’s final season, it would be great to see him finally dominate Thomas for one Sunday in Cleveland to set the franchise record.