While all sacks are created equal in a game book or on a stat sheet, not all of them really are when you look at why and how each one happened. Throughout the offseason I plan on looking at each of 56 sacks the Pittsburgh Steelers defense registered during the 2017 regular season and attempt to contextualize each of them. This process should help identify which defensive players are earning their sacks more than others.
We’ll now continue this series by looking at and contextualizing the lone sack that Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison registered during the 2017 season in his very limited playing time.
Sack #1 – Week 6 vs. Chiefs – 4Q – 3-10-PIT 40 – (1:07) (Shotgun) A.Smith sacked at PIT 48 for -8 yards (J.Harrison) – TIME 3.81 seconds
Harrison’s lone sack of the 2017 season is easy to remember and it came late in the Week 6 road game against the Kansas City Chiefs and against left tackle Eric Fisher. After reducing his split prior to the football being snapped Harrison had a good get-off and followed it by using his trademarked rip move on Fisher. Watch him bar the left arm of Fisher and effectively use the tackle’s own body in order to gain leverage and be able to quickly turn the corner with ease. This was a late 3rd and 10 play in the game and thus Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was a sitting duck for Harrison. Harrison is no stranger to beating Fisher and this sack set up a 4th and 18 play that resulted in an incomplete deep pass by Smith and the Steelers won the game. Yes, finally a high quality sack by a Steelers outside linebacker.
Summary: Harrison played all of 40 defensive snaps for the Steelers prior to him being waived late in the season and on only 17 of those snaps did he rush the passer. His lone sack for the Steelers was obviously a high quality one and as far as the team’s outside linebackers go, it was the highest quality one of the entire season and one of the very few that position group registered. As all of you know, Harrison was waived by the team ahead of the Week 16 game and he was quickly signed by the New England Patriots. After signing with the Patriots, Harrison registered two sacks late in his first game with his new team against the New York Jets.