Steelers Pass Rush Off To Best Start In A Decade

With two more sacks Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, the Pittsburgh Steelers have now gotten to the quarterback nine times this season. Through two games, the Steelers are tied for second in the league in sacks, only falling short of the Jacksonville Jaguars (who incredibly have 11). The Steelers’ pass rush is off to an unusual fast start this season – in fact the last time a Steelers’ defense had recorded nine or more sacks in their first two contests was a decade ago in 2007 (10 sacks).

To put into perspective just how long ago 2007 really was, let’s recap. Mike Tomlin was in his first season as head coach of the Steelers organization, Derek Anderson was on his way to a winning season with the Cleveland Browns, Apple had just released the first iPhone and James Harrison was in his first season as a starter.

While Harrison was a big factor in the Steelers’ relentless pass rush in the first few weeks of the 2007 season, being credited with 1.5 of the team’s 10 sacks, the veteran linebacker has taken a backseat to start the 2017 campaign. Harrison has logged just four snaps this season, with all four coming in the opener against the Browns.

Though Harrison may not be a part of the defense’s sack parade like he was a decade ago, this has not been problematic like in year’s past. This is due in part to the Steelers sharing the wealth in their pursuit of the quarterback.

The Steelers have split their nine sacks to seven different recipients this season, with Anthony Chickillo and rookie linebacker T.J. Watt enjoying the biggest piece of the pie with two sacks each. But while many have already dug into the defense’s sack pie, fear not because there is a lot more to go around.

Inside linebacker Ryan Shazier has yet to get home on the quarterback but has been close on numerous occasions. The same can be said for currently injured Stephon Tuitt. The newly signed Tuitt sprung in the backfield on his only two snaps of the season and you can expect that to continue upon his return. And of course, there is still the freshly kept Harrison, who is presumably waiting for his opportunity to devour fatigued linemen later in the season.

The franchise all-time sack record through the first three games belongs to the 1983 Steelers with 17 sacks. And while the likelihood of the current defense reaching that mark is extremely unlikely, the team could tie the 2007 Steelers with a three-sack game against the Chicago Bears Sunday. The Bears have allowed five sacks this season, giving the Steelers an ample opportunity to allow more members into their pass rush party.

About the Author

Daniel Valente

Steelers fan from birth, spending majority of my free time looking up statistics. Had the honor of meeting Mike Vanderjagt shortly after his infamous missed field goal in the 2005 Divisional Round. Currently pursuing a Journalism degree. Follow me on Twitter @StatsGuyDaniel

  • CP72

    With Shazier, Dupree, Watt, Tuitt, and Hargrave this pass rush could be scary for a very long time. Probably should give some props to Chickillo as well. The old man of that group is Shazier at 25.

  • Don’t forget about Heyward!

  • CP72

    Cam is ancient he’s 28!! 🙂

  • He’s still got at least 4 good years left, at the very least.

  • CP72

    Yeah my point was there are a few young guys that will still be in their prime 5 years from now….I am a huge Cam Heyward fan.

  • Yea great young core group to have. Hopefully they can afford to keep them together.

  • pittfan

    I see Ben staying another year to get back to back Lombardis

  • Talyn Scarbrough

    This would be fantastic Ben did say a while back that his goal was tie Terry Bradshaw’s super bowls which would be 4.

    Additionally, since we have our O line locked up for I think at least 3 years he may decide to finish out his contract (2020 I think). This would also give Dobbs a bit longer to learn and improve before possibly handing him the keys to the kingdom (I’m still not sold on this he still has a long way to go but the potential is there).

  • Josh

    can we also be happy that some of these sacks in week 1 were coverage sacks?

  • Daniel Valente

    This new era of Pittsburgh D is surely going to be a sight to see as they all enter their prime

  • Michael Conrad

    I love the front seven they can be special if they stay healthy. Tuitt, Hargrave,Heyward very nice with Dupree and Watt and Chick as a sub. Plus Williams and Shaz. They will get better as the season goes on. The back end with Hilton and Haden is ok. We will see when they play real QB’s.

  • razaard2

    Man a few years from now people will be scratching their heads wondering why they let the second (or perhaps, the best haha) Watt fall all the way to 30 at Pittsburgh

  • Terrible Towlie

    that 83 team, the defense scored as much as the offense….10-6 finish in spite of Stoudt at QB

  • Douglas Andrews

    17 sacks in 3 games for the 1983 Steelers. That’s an amazing defensive stat.

  • BlackAndGold97

    Steelers have really hit on front 7 early rounders in the past years: Cam, Shazier, TJ (so far), Tuitt, Bud (when healthy). The only real flop was Jarvis Jones.