In 2002 when the NFL added their 32nd team of the Houston Texans, the current divisional lineups were set with each conference having four divisions of four teams. For the AFC North, the grouping of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and Cleveland Browns was born. In the 21 seasons of the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers have won the division nine times with the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals each winning six times.
But since the formation of the AFC North, which player has had the most sacks?
Earlier I posed the question about the 10 quarterbacks with the most wins in the AFC North as well as the players with the most rushing yards, receiving yards, and interceptions.
Just to clarify, these statistics are from regular season games with a player on one of the AFC North teams against any opponent. Players who were on multiple AFC North teams had their combined sacks (hopefully I caught them all).
NOTE: For some reason, Pro Football Reference did not have James Harrison due to an incorrect filter. I reported the error and hope no other players were improperly filtered who would have landed on the list.
Here are the 10 players in order:
1. Terrell Suggs, BAL (16 seasons): 132.5
t-2. Carlos Dunlap, CIN (11 seasons): 82.5
t-2. James Harrison, PIT/CIN (15 seasons): 82.5
4. Cam Heyward, PIT (12 seasons): 78.5
5. T.J. Watt, PIT (6 seasons): 77.5
6. Geno Atkins, CIN (11 seasons): 75.5
7. Myles Garrett, CLE (6 seasons): 74.5
8. LaMarr Woodley, PIT (7 seasons): 57.0
9. Michael Johnson, CIN (9 seasons): 40.5
10. Bud Dupree, PIT (6 seasons): 39.5
I will be the first to admit that although I expected Terrell Suggs to be towards the top of this list, I did not expect his career sack number to be what I saw with a lead of 50. What he did with the Ravens was so much that no other player from Baltimore landed on the list as the next most sacks was Elvis Dumervil with 35.5.
James Harrison needed his two sacks from his year with the Cincinnati Bengals in order to move into a tie with Carlos Dunlap. After Dunlap, the highest of any of Cincinnati’s players on the list, they had three players with Geno Atkins in the cluster of players within four sacks of each other from 4–7 and Michael Johnson coming in in the ninth position.
As expected, Harrison led the way for the Steelers and, just like the Steelers history books, is currently closely followed by both Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt. LaMarr Woodley bridged the very significant gap in the standings as he is the only player between 40.5 and 74.5 with his 57.0 sacks. I was surprised to see Bud Dupree make the list with 39.5 sacks as he just edged out Joey Porter with 38.5 sacks starting in 2002 as Porter had another 21.5 sacks from 1999 through 2001 before the start of the AFC North.
While I expected the Steelers to be well represented on this list, I did not expect it to be them and the Bengals comprising all but two of the positions. With so many active players such as Cam Heyward, T.J. Watt, and Myles Garrett all making up the cluster from second place through seventh place who are separated by only eight sacks, this list is likely to look much different next season.
So how many players on this list would you have been able to name? Are there any surprises or someone you possibly would not have remembered? Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.