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Defense On Pace To Set New Franchise Record And Lead League In Sacks (Again)

Don’t look now, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are once again on-pace to lead the NFL in sacks—and to break their own franchise record again after doing so just last season. Even with the Kansas City Chiefs having already played 11 games, their 36 total sacks after last night’s game still comes up one short of Pittsburgh’s 37.

The Steelers entered Week 11 already owning a share of the league lead with 31 sacks before adding six more on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which was the fourth time this season in which they have recorded at least five sacks in a single game.

The charge on Sunday was led, of all people, by their nose tackle, third-year Javon Hargrave, who recorded the first multi-sack game of his career. He finished the game with two, though he should have had three, allowing Blake Bortles to scramble for a first down on one miss.

Outside linebacker T.J. Watt added two more, both of them strip sacks, giving him 10 on the season and becoming the first player at his position with the Steelers to hit double figures since 2010. It was his third multi-sack game of the season and the fourth of his career.

Also contributing to the onslaught was Cameron Heyward and Vince Williams, Heyward actually getting the initial pressure that helped lead to Williams’ sack. Both of them have been heating up in recent weeks in the pressure department.

Through 10 games, the Steelers now have three players with at least five sacks on the season. Aside from Watt, Heyward and Hargrave both reached that total on Sunday, the former now at five and a half on the season and the latter setting what was already a career-high before the game with now five on the nose. Bud Dupree is also sitting on four and a half at the moment.

Williams now has three and a half sacks on the year after recording eight a season ago. Stephon Tuitt, who sat out Sunday’s game with an elbow injury, recorded a sack in three straight games. Jon Bostic has a career-high two and a half, while L.J. Fort, Anthony Chickillo, and Daniel McCullers each have one.

The most notable omission from this list is the presence of even a single defensive back, especially after nickel corner Mike Hilton recorded four sacks last season, tied for the second-most by a cornerback in team history. Sean Davis had at least one sack in each of his first two seasons, but has yet to have one this year.

So their sack productivity this year has actually come entirely from their front seven so far, at least in terms of the end results. The defensive line currently accounts for 14 and a half sacks while the outside linebackers have 15 and a half, the inside linebackers adding seven more.

All said, this puts the Steelers on-pace to reach 59 sacks this season, which would break the all-time mark of 56 set last year. Their 55-sack record stood from 1994 until 2017. Last year’s mark is already in jeopardy.

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