As you likely heard, the Pittsburgh Steelers set a new franchise record for most sacks in a season after Week 17, posting 56 sacks for the regular season. The previous mark was set twice at 55 sacks.
These are well-known facts at this point, but if you think about just how the Steelers attained their 56 sacks this season, it is rather remarkable. Think about those teams of the 2000s which had those dominant bookend edge rushers like Joey Porter, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, among others, to get after the quarterback. The 2017 Steelers was comprised in a slightly different fashion.
Just take a look at how the 56 sacks were broken down, by player:
#Steelers 2017 56 Sacks Count:— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) January 1, 2018
DE Cameron Heyward
LB Vince Williams
LB TJ Watt
LB Bud Dupree
DE Tyson Alualu CB Mike Hilton
LB Anthony Chickillo DE Stephon Tuitt
NT Javon Hargrave DE LT Walton
S Sean Davis LB LJ Fort CB Joe Haden LB James Harrison LB Sean Spence
Such a wide array of players who got to the quarterback during the regular season. The main reason why? The Steelers blitz from almost every position (See: Hilton, Mike), and don’t rely on their edge rushers to constantly win.
In fact, the Steelers drop their edge rushers into coverage a ridiculous amount, compared to other teams. But it is this specific science which always has offenses never really knowing where pressure is coming from. Vince Williams tallied 8 sacks this year mainly due to so much attention going to Cameron Heyward, and Vince will tell you he should have had even more than 8.
This isn’t your dad and grandfather’s Steelers defense, but when it comes to sacking the quarterback the Steelers have proven they are more than capable of getting the job done.
Time to check in on the other news surrounding the black-and-gold outside the walls of BTSC...
- Welcome to 'Blitzburgh': Steelers break franchise sacks record with contributions from various defenders
Vince Williams was 4 years old when the 1994 Steelers set the franchise season sacks record that he helped break this season. He was a toddler when the ubiquitous nickname was coined for that era of Steelers defenses that terrorized opposing quarterbacks.
Ever a student of the game and aware of its history, Williams was proud to bring it back after a game in which the Steelers picked up their record-breaking 56th sack of 2017.
“It's the new Blitzburgh,” Williams said.
“There's a lot of great guys who got sacks on quarterbacks in this stadium. We're just happy to add to it.”
He spent most of his first two seasons with the Steelers as a guard, has been known to dabble as a tight end and will go into the books as the Steelers' most-used starting right tackle in 2017. But Chris Hubbard added another notch to his position-flexibility repertoire Sunday.
With Maurkice Pouncey held out because of rest and minor injury, when backup center B.J. Finney went down because of a right thigh injury in the second quarter of Sunday's regular-season finale against the Cleveland Browns, that left the Steelers short on center-capable options.
In stepped Hubbard.
“You've just got to be ready at all times,” the fourth-year pro said. “That's how this game goes.”
The Steelers have three possible opponents for the AFC divisional playoff round, but one of them won't be the Buffalo Bills.
As the No. 6 seed, Buffalo is the only team playing in the wild-card round next weekend that cannot play the Steelers in the divisional round.
The Steelers will host a divisional playoff game Sunday, Jan. 14 at 1:05 p.m.
The possibilities are the No. 3 seed Jacksonville, No. 4 seed Kansas City or No. 5 seed Tennessee. The Steelers won't know the identity of their opponent until after the 1 p.m. game Jan. 7 between Jacksonville and Buffalo. A Jacksonville win would send the Jaguars to Heinz Field in the divisional round. A Buffalo win would send the Tennessee-Kansas City winner.