While the Pittsburgh Steelers largely dominated the time of possession over the course of the team, James Harrison, the 38-year-old wonder at the outside linebacker position, still found plenty of opportunities to make his mark on the game, as he was once again the Steelers’ best defensive player on the field.
He led the Steelers—tied with Ross Cockrell—for the team lead with six tackles, and he was also the only one for the team to bring the quarterback down with a sack. He recorded a sack and a half—including a strip sack—against the Dolphins a week ago to give him two and a half so far this postseason.
That brings Harrison’s postseason sack total up to 11, which puts him in a tie with LaMarr Woodley for the most in Steelers history since the sack was officially recognized as a statistic beginning with the 1982 season.
For as much as Woodley may have rubbed Steelers fans the wrong way in his last couple of seasons with the team, and since then, I do think it is worth remembering just how stellar he was as a pass-rusher in the games that mattered the most, during the single-elimination portion of the season with a championship on the line.
Woodley participated in just eight postseason games with the Steelers from his rookie year in 2007 through 2011. He recorded two sacks apiece in each of his first four postseason games, including all three games en route to the Steelers’ sixth Super Bowl trophy during the 2008 season.
During the Steelers’ 2010 postseason run, he recorded a sack in each of the team’s three postseason games—but, of course, they lost the last one. He did not record a sack during their one postseason game in 2011.
The Steelers have played in 13 postseason games with Harrison as a starter, so it took him nearly twice as long to get to 11 sacks as it did Woodley—though an 11-sack season is still quite nice. And the fact of the matter is that he has recorded four and a half sacks in his past four games, registering at least one sack in four consecutive postseason games.
Of course, it wasn’t just the times that Harrison got home last night that counted. He drew Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher into a pair of holds, one of which negated a successful two-point conversion with few than three minutes to play, which would have tied the game at 18. Given that, it could be seen as the single-most important play of the entire game.
Through two postseason games so far, Harrison has recorded 16 tackles, two and a half sacks, and a forced fumble. Not a bad performance at all for the old man, by any means. Next week, he gets a crack at Nate Solder, whom even Jarvis Jones had success against.