The Steelers tied an NFL record when Robert Spillane sacked Alex Smith, for a loss of nine yards, in the first quarter of Monday's game against the Washington Football Team.
With that sack, the Steelers now have a streak of 69 games with at least one sack, tying the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who set the NFL record over a five-season span (1999-2003). If the Steelers record a sack next week against the Buffalo Bills, they will set a new NFL record at 70 consecutive games with a sack.
The Steelers streak began in Week 8 of the 2016 season against the Baltimore Ravens. James Harrison sacked Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco for the first of three sacks that day. Ryan Shazier and Anthony Chickillo also each added a sack.
During the span from 2016-2020, T.J. Watt has the most sacks with 46.5, followed by Bud Dupree (35.5), Cameron Heyward (32), and Stephon Tuitt (24). It wasn't just them, though. The team combined for a total of 236 sacks during the streak, with 29 players contributing.
The Steelers defensive scheme sets the players up to be able to put up big sack numbers, but Coach Mike Tomlin said it starts with the players.
"Quality players. It starts there," said Tomlin. "Guys like Bud (Dupree) and T.J. (Watt) and Cam (Heyward) and (Stephon) Tuitt. They provide a wave that we ride. They are good individually. They are good collectively. They are consistent in terms of their performances."
Tomlin understands that as he was on the Tampa staff during three seasons of the streak (2001-03) as the defensive backs coach, so he definitely knows what it takes to have a streak like that.
"I have been a part of several groups like that," said Tomlin. "I was fortunate to be a part of that Tampa group that this group often gets compared to. The thing I think about when I think about the two groups are the quality individual rushers who rush well together collectively.
"We've got guys you can characterize as really good individual rushers, but they rush very well together. The understanding of the larger body and how they fit into it makes it happen for them and that is what provides consistency."
Steelers sack streak tidbits:
- The Steelers lead the NFL in sacks during the span of their sack streak.
- The Steelers recorded four plus sacks in 31 games during the streak, including two games with eight sacks (Week 4, 2019 vs. Cincinnati and Week 11, 2016 vs. Cleveland). They have only had nine games with just one sack.
- The Steelers have the most sacks against the Cleveland Browns during the streak (44), with the Cincinnati Bengals (30), and the Baltimore Ravens (29) next in line. The most sacked quarterbacks have been Andy Dalton (18) and Joe Flacco (14).
- The Steelers get sacks when it matters most as 65 of them during the streak have come in the fourth quarter.
- Devin Bush was the youngest player to record a sack during the streak, doing so while he was 21 years and 74 days old, while James Harrison was the oldest at 39 years and 164 days.