'Anyone can make a play'

The sacks piled up with regularity, an NFL-high 56 in all amassed throughout each week of the regular season at a pace that established an all-time NFL record.

But all sacks are not created equally.

Following is a look back at five of the Steelers' most memorable from the 2020 season:

Sept. 20, Denver: Strong safety Terrell Edmunds sacks Broncos quarterback Jeff Driskel

Denver had rallied from a 26-14, fourth-quarter deficit to within five at 26-21 and faced a fourth-and-2 from the Steelers' 15-yard line with 1:55 left in regulation. Edmunds blitzed off the left edge of the defense and got to Driskel without being blocked for an 11-yard loss. It was the Steelers' season-high seventh sack on the afternoon. It was also the second career sack for Edmunds, a third-year pro.

"We're playing our football and anyone on our defense can make a play anytime," Edmunds maintained. "That time it was me, thankful for it."

Added head coach Mike Tomlin: "We're capable of bringing anybody except the field (wide-side) corner. That's kind of our philosophical approach, we're a blitz group. It's tough to bring the field corner because of the distance he plays from but anybody else is capable of coming and that's just the code we live by."

The Steelers took over on downs and were able to run out the clock from there on the way to a 26-21 victory in the home opener and a record of 2-0.

Nov. 8, at Dallas: Outside linebacker T.J. Watt and defensive tackle Cam Heyward sack Cowboys quarterback Garrett Gilbert

Another week, another critical quarterback drop.

The one occurred on fourth-and-8 from the Cowboys' 41 with 1:45 left in regulation and the Steelers protecting a five-point lead. It cost Dallas 17 yards as well as possession of the football.

The difference this time was the offense wasn't able to run out the clock and the defense would be called up to make one more stop before the Steelers completed their 24-19 victory and improved to 8-0.

But the shared sack was another example of the defense being able to turn up the heat when needed. Heyward blasted up the middle on a five-man pressure and got Gilbert in retreat mode long enough for Watt to arrive from the left edge and help finish the play off.

Dec. 13, at Buffalo: Defensive end Tyson Alualu sacks Bills quarterback Josh Allen

As sacks go this one wasn't the most devastating, but it nonetheless finished off the setting of an NFL record. Defensive end Tyson Alualu was credited with a sack when he forced an Allen fumble on first-and-10 from the Buffalo 24 midway through the second quarter. Bills center Mitch Morse recovered, but the play allowed the Steelers to set an NFL record by registering at least one sack in 70 consecutive regular-season games (the streak will be at 73 and counting entering next season).

The Steelers took the field sharing that NFL standard with Tampa Bay, which had produced a sack in 69 consecutive regular-season games from 1999-2003.

It was the only sack of the night for the Steelers and one of the few highlights in a 26-15 loss that dropped the Steelers to 11-2.

Dec. 27, Indianapolis: Watt sacks Colts quarterback Philip Rivers

Watt not only got to the quarterback on first-and-10 from the Colts' 32, he got the ball out. The 8-yard loss coupled with cornerback Mike Hilton's fumble recovery and 14-yard return set the Steelers up at the Colts' 3. The Steelers scored a touchdown three plays later that, coupled with an extra point, tied the game at 7-7. Those would be the only points the Steelers managed in the first half, and they came in handy when the Steelers found themselves facing a 24-7, third-quarter deficit.

A second-half explosion that included three touchdowns in 10:38 produced a 28-24, come-from-behind victory that improved the Steelers' record to 12-3 and clinched the AFC North Division championship.

Watt's second sack of the game upped his season total to 15, which would be enough to lead the NFL.

Jan. 3, at Cleveland: Outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott sacks Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield

In the grand scheme of things, first-and-10 from the Cleveland 35 early in the third quarter in a game the Steelers played without significant regulars by design and would ultimately lose, 24-22, hardly qualifies as memorable. But in registering the Steelers' third of four sacks on the afternoon and his first in eight games dressed for the Steelers this season, Ellliott became the 15th member of the defense to get a quarterback on the ground (defensive tackle Chris Wormley had become the 14th when he sacked Mayfield late in the second quarter).

Edmunds, as it turned out, was right back in September in his assessment about anyone being able to make such a play at any time on this defense.

As was Tomlin when he had insisted anyone was a candidate to be coming on the rush (the wide-side cornerback excluded).

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