On his way to Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, James Harrison set the Steelers record for most sacks in a season with 16. But we may have to start acknowledging that he’s actually number 2 on that list.
The NFL didn’t officially begin to count sacks until 1981 which means there isn’t any hard data on sacks prior to that. Which also means that the likes of Ernie Stautner, Joe Greene, Dwight White, Andy Russell, Jack Lambert, and everyone else on those Steel Curtain teams didn’t have any sack stats recorded until 1981.
The most interesting revolution to come out of Pro Football Researchers work in regards to the Steelers was that they have a new single season sack leader. His name? Eugene “Big Daddy” Lipscomb. PFR went back to 1960 and captured the information by careful research to credit every player who recorded a sack prior to the NFL making it an official stat.
Lipscomb was traded to the Steelers from the Baltimore Colts in 1961 and helped give the Steelers one of the best defensive lines in football. He and Stautner terrorized opposing offenses in 1961 with Lipscomb recording 17.5 sacks in a 14 game season. He would only play one more season for the Steelers before passing away in 1963 of what some suspected was a drug overdose.
It’s unclear when and if ever the NFL will officially adopt these numbers, but they sure should.
Not only did Lipscomb surpass Harrison, some of those Steel Curtain men found themselves in the top 5 of the Steelers All-Time sack charts.
Harrison – 80.5
L.C Greenwood – 78
Mean Joe – 77.5
Jason Gildon – 77
Joey Porter – 60