One Thursday’s episode of the Steelers Stat Geek podcast, I outlined some the the recent sack streaks the Steelers had come to a conclusion in recent years. During the 2021 season, the Steelers had their NFL record streak of 75 consecutive regular-season games with at least one sack come to an end. This is a record that will stand until at least the 2026 season because the current active streak is 21 games by the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens. But the likelihood of those teams getting beyond 75 would be quite an accomplishment.
Another sack record the Steelers had come to an end recently was the number of consecutive seasons with at least 50 sacks. The Steelers had put up 50 sacks for five-straight seasons from 2017 through 2021 but fell short in 2022. So instead of holding the record on their own, the Steelers are now tied with five consecutive seasons with three NFC teams in Chicago, Dallas, and Washington who all accomplish this feat during the exact same five seasons from 1983 through 1987.
Even though the Steelers did not hit the 50-sack mark in 2022, they did reach 40 sacks. In doing so, the Steelers are now tied for fourth place all time with six consecutive seasons of 40+ sacks. The Steelers are tied with 10 other streaks of six games by 9 different franchises.
First looking at where the Steelers are tied with six consecutive seasons, there are five teams that did so over the exact same five seasons from 1983 to 1988. They were the Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Los Angeles Raiders. With so many teams holding records for sacks over these seasons, I like to think of it as the “golden age of sacks” in the NFL.
Another six-year span in which two teams had 40 or more sacks came from 2011 to 2016 with the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings. The Detroit Lions also managed six-straight seasons of 40+ sacks from 1985 through 1990.
If you notice I said there were only nine other franchises who were tied, this is because the Steelers have had streaks of six seasons of 40 or more sacks twice. While they are currently on a streak from 2017 to 2022, they also had six-straight seasons from 1993 through 1998.
But the Steelers are not the only team to have multiple stretches of six or more consecutive seasons of 40+ sacks. The New Orleans Saints also have an active streak from 2017 through 2022 as the only other active team other than the Steelers. Additionally, they are in third place on the list with seven seasons of having 40 or more sacks from 1995 through 2001.
The ultimate streak that both the Steelers and the Saints are chasing rests at nine consecutive seasons of having 40 or more sacks. This mark is actually a tie by two franchises with Philadelphia from 1984 to 1992 and Washington one year prior from 1983 to 1991.
In doing this research, I have to throw a shout out to a team that had a pretty successful span of seasons with 40 or more sacks with most of it falling before the NFL expanded to 16 games. The Los Angeles Rams had two different streaks of five seasons of 40 or more sacks only separated by one year where they missed out by just a few. The streaks went from 1966 to 1970 and then from 1972 to 1976. After missing the mark in 1977, the Rams added four more years with a 16-game schedule from 1978 to 1981.
If you notice the end of a streak for the Rams in 1981 and how the “golden era of sacks” began in 1983, this is because the 1982 season saw only nine regular-season games due to being a strike-shortened year. Even though there was another season and where the NFL missed time due to a strike in 1987, there was only one week of missed games as teams played 15 games that season.
Even though it doesn’t have the same prestige as getting 50 sacks in a season, the Steelers, along with the New Orleans Saints, have the opportunity to move into a tie for third place this season if they can manage to hit the 40-sack mark yet again. But if either franchise has ambitions of holding the record all to themselves, they will have to keep up the pressure on the quarterback and hit the 40-sack threshold for another four seasons. But now that the NFL has added a 17th game, the ability to continue the streak has one more opportunity.
For a more in-depth breakdown of this Steelers sack record as well as looking at George Pickens’ production as a rookie and an update on the Steeler salary cap, check out the latest episode of the Steelers Stat Geek podcast below: