Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady to Break Most-Sacked Record in 2020?


Jim Rogash/Getty Images Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger prior to a game at Gillette Stadium in 2015.

There have been 54 Super Bowls played to date. Either Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) has been the quarterback for the AFC in 12 of those 54 Super Bowls (18.5 percent rate). But their longevity and long-term success have come with a price. Together they have been sacked by NFL defenders more than a thousand times. And considering that they are both under contract for two more seasons, their career sack totals are likely to increase substantially in the years to come.

Moreover, if they play anything close to a full-season in 2020, both are likely to break Brett Favre’s record for most-sacked quarterback in NFL history.

Most-Sacked QBs All-Time

At the moment, Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre remains the most-sacked quarterback in NFL history with 525 sacks. Fellow Hall-of-Famer John Elway is second on the list with 512, followed by Roethlisberger (503) and Brady (500).

But Roethlisberger has absorbed punishment at a much faster pace than Brady, as he’s played 218 games over the course of 16 seasons while Brady has played in 285 games over the course of 19 years.

The Bruce Arians Effect

But in an interesting twist of fate, Brady’s move from the New England Patriots to Tampa Bay Buccaneers pairs him with head coach Bruce Arians, who operates an offense that is famous for leaving quarterbacks to absorb a lot of hits—and sacks.

In fact, Bruce Arians served as offensive coordinator for the Steelers for five seasons between 2007 and 2011. According to Bob Labriola of, Roethlisberger was sacked 47, 49, 50, 43 and 42 times during those five years, an average of 46.2 sacks per season.

But don’t blame Roethlisberger’s tendency to hold onto the ball. During the five years that Arians was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, his quarterbacks were sacked an average of 37.8 times per year.

And Arians served as offensive coordinator and then interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts when prized No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck was a rookie in 2012. Luck was sacked 41 times and absorbed 83 other recorded hits that year, starting him on a injury-filled career that ended at the age of 29.

Nothing has changed with Arians either; last year Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterbacks were sacked 47 times.

Tom Brady’s Sack History

Meanwhile, Brady has been sacked an average of just 25 times per years over the course of his 20-year career. It won’t be easy to maintain that average, though, because in 15 seasons as a head coach or offensive coordinator, Arians has never had the quarterback sacked as few as 25 times over the course of a regular season. Which is why it’s an open question whether Brady can stay healthy in Bruce Arians’ offense?

And because the Steelers boast a veteran offensive line that remains one of the better pass protecting lines in the NFL, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Brady is sacked more frequently than Roethlisberger this season—and finishes 2020 as the NFL’s all-time leader as most-sacked quarterback.

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