The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the final week of the regular season as the only team with 50 or more sacks to that point, recording five the week before to reach 52 on the season. They held a three-sack lead for the most in the NFL over the Los Angeles Rams, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 47, and the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles at 46.
Both the Steelers and the Rams came out of their Sunday games with four sacks apiece. Pittsburgh finished with 56, tying their own franchise record for the most in the NFL. Los Angeles finished with 53, which was good enough for second place. No other team had the ammunition to catch up to Pittsburgh by season’s end.
That means that the Steelers have now led the NFL in sacks for four consecutive seasons and counting, becoming the first team in NFL history to do so. In fact, the only other time that a team had led the league in sacks for three consecutive seasons comes in the era before sacks were an official statistic, as the Raiders did so in the late 60s in the old AFL.
In wrapping up the year with four more sacks, Pittsburgh added two more names to the list of season contributors, as both defensive end Chris Wormley and outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott notched their first sacks of the season.
Aside from the new names, rookie outside linebacker Alex Highsmith also recorded his second sack of the season, and Stephon Tuitt added to his season total as well, finishing his year with 11, easily a career-best. He played only five-plus games last season before tearing a pectoral muscle, and should have been in much stronger consideration for the Pro Bowl this year.
Tuitt and T.J. Watt finished the Steelers with double-digit sacks. Watt had a career-high with 15 sacks, tied for the second-most in a single season in team history. Even while sitting out the season finale, he ended the year with the NFL lead in sacks, over Aaron Donald and Myles Garrett.
In 11 games before going down with a torn ACL, the Steelers also got eight sacks from Bud Dupree, who was having a very strong follow-up season to his breakout 2019, during which he posted a career-high 11.5 sacks. They will need Highsmith to pick up that slack.
Despite making the Pro Bowl, Heyward finished the 2020 season with his lowest sack total in a full season since entering the starting lineup. Outside of the 2016 season, during which he tore his pectoral muscle and was limited to just 364 snaps over seven games, he recorded at least five sacks in every season since 2013. He finishes this season with four, but also as one of the highest-graded interior defenders in the NFL.