Sacks didn't become an official stat in the NFL until the 1982 season, meaning most of the legendary 1970’s Steelers don't actually have any official sacks to their name. While many have wondered why the league couldn't just go back and record one of the most popular stats in the game, one unofficial source did just that and gave us sack numbers dating all the way back to 1960, a full 22 years before sacks being recognized.
Pro Football Reference is a source many outlets use for their official statistics including right here at Behind The Steel Curtain. Their hard work has powered this article, and given us a look at where some of the most legendary Steelers stack up amongst the all-time greats.
Thanks to decades of research by John Turney and Nick Webster, we have updated our site to add sack data all the way back to 1960, 20 years before it became an officially recorded statistic— ProFootballReference (@pfref) July 12, 2021
Check out our blog to learn more about this amazing new update https://t.co/CuvMtx7ReT pic.twitter.com/BLgybiu8R5
Steelers All-Time Career sack Leader
1. James Harrison 80.5
2. L.C. Greenwood 78*
3. Joe Greene 77.5*
4. Jason Gildon 77
5. Joey Porter 60
6. Keith Willis 59
7. Cam Heyward 58
8. Lamar Woodley 57
9. Dwight White 55*
10. Greg Lloyd 53.5
The updated ranking sees the inclusion of Greenwood, Greene, and White into the Steelers top-10. Each player doesn't actually have an official sack in their names but their impact was certainly felt on the field. It is also worth nothing that Joe Greene isn't actually the Steelers all-time sack leader according to Pro Football Reference, which was long presumed to be the case had sacks been recognized throughout his career.
1970’s Steelers sack leaders
LC Greenwood - 78
Joe Greene - 77.5
Dwight White - 55
Ernie Holmes - 39.5
Andy Russell - 38
Steve Furness - 31.5
Jack Ham - 25.5
Jack Lambert - 23.5
John Banaszk - 22.5
Donnie Shell - 9.5
To the surprise of no one, the 70’s sack leaders belong firmly to that of the Steel Curtain. The Steelers defensive line wasn't just a dominant run-stuffing group but a unit that made quarterbacks lives a nightmare. It’s also pretty interesting that the fifth defensive lineman in that legendary group, Steve Furness, put up some eye-popping sack numbers as well. Andy Russell also did most of his damage in the 1960’s and rolled his success into the early to mid 1970’s.
Odds and ends
-Gene Lipscomb would be the Steelers unofficial sacks in a season record holder, racking up 17.5 sacks in 1962 —In just 14 game
-No player for the Pittsburgh Steelers has ever recorded 100 career sacks
-Despite only playing four professional seasons T.J. Watt is 11th (8th officially) in Steelers career sacks (49.5)
-Joe Greene’s best sack year was 1972 when he racked up 11 sacks, which is tied with L.C. Greenwood’s career high which he did in both 1971 and 1974