Earlier this season, we wrote about the fact that Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was racking up the tackles—and we also went into some context about how that’s not necessarily a good thing. At that time, he had reached the point at which he had recorded more tackles than any other defensive back in a single season in recorded team history—as far back as tackle statistics go, anyway.
With the regular season now complete (obviously, with the postseason underway), Fitzpatrick finished not only with the most tackles ever recorded by a Steelers defensive back, but the ninth-most tackles in a single season in franchise history. He’s the only non-inside linebacker in the top 10.
And seven of the top 10 seasons in tackle numbers belong to the duo of James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons, including each of the top five seasons in tackles, alternating with Farrior starting at 141. The only other ones in the top 10 are Earl Holmes with 128 tackles in 2000 at number six and Levon Kirkland with 126 in 1997 at the seventh spot. That’s tied for seventh—with Timmons.
Fitzpatrick finished the 2020 season—in 16 games still, since he missed one due to COVID-19—with 124 tackles. That’s 19 more tackles than any other Steelers defensive back has recorded, with current teammate Terrell Edmunds registering 105 in 2019. Ryan Clark had three 100-tackle seasons, and Lee Flowers and Rod Woodson both had one apiece.
The only other non-inside linebacker to record a 100-tackle season for the Steelers in their history—going back to 1987, since that is when tackles began to be tracked league-wide—was James Harrison, who recorded 101 tackles in his Defensive Player of the Year season in 2008, and then 100 again in 2010.
And that’s a couple dozen away from the number of tackle Fitzpatrick had. Just think about that. He had four games this season in which he had double-digit tackles, and another three games in which he had nine.
Nevertheless, the Steelers did go 5-2 in those seven games, with one of the losses being against their opponents today—the Kansas City Chiefs. He had 12 tackles that day, two shy of his season- and career-high of 14, which he recorded a week earlier against the Tennessee Titans. 26 tackles over a two-week span. His four- and six-tackle games in the following two games must have seemed like a vacation, despite playing every snap.