Steelers Fail to Extend NFL Record in Double-Digit Loss to Bengals

Joe Burrow

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 26, 2021.

On December 13, 2020, the Pittsburgh Steelers established a new NFL record when nose tackle Tyson Alualu produced a second-quarter sack of Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. It was the 70th consecutive game in which the Steelers recorded at least one sack—a record that the Steelers defense extended to 75 games with two sacks of Derek Carr in last Sunday’s 26-17 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.

But on September 26, 2021, that streak came to an end, as the Steelers were held without a sack in a 24-10 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field.

It’s perhaps fitting that the streak was stopped on a day the Steelers were without many of the pass rushers responsible for setting the mark. Stellar defensive end Stephon Tuitt started the 2021 season on injured reserve; last Sunday the Steelers lost Tyson Alualu to a season-ending ankle injury that required surgery; and today, the Steelers played the Bengals without the services of starting outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, both of whom were sidelined with groin injuries.

Never mind the Steelers pass rushers who were lost in free agency during the past offseason. That includes outside linebacker Bud Dupree (who signed a five-year contract with the Tennessee Titans in free agency) and slot cornerback Mike Hilton (who inked a four-year deal with the Bengals). Also gone is former inside linebacker Vince Williams, who retired on the eve of training camp.

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Pittsburgh’s Consecutive-Game Sack Record Spanned 5 Years

Now T.J. Watt & company are charged with starting a new streak, with the 75-game run having started in Week 8 of the 2016 season against the Baltimore Ravens. On that day James Harrison, Ryan Shazier and Anthony Chickillo all recorded sacks of quarterback Joe Flacco.

The previous consecutive-game sack record was 69 games, set by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers between 1999 and 2003. Current Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was on Tampa’s defensive staff during much of that time period.

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Another Steelers Sack Record in Jeopardy

By virtue of having recorded three sacks in its Week 1 win over Buffalo, Pittsburgh now has a total of five sacks on the season, three of which have been recorded by T.J. Watt.

That means the Steelers are already well off the pace they need to reach 50 or more sacks in 2021. Last year the organization set a new franchise record with its fourth consecutive 50+ sack season.

This year the defense is attempting to tie an NFL record for most consecutive seasons with 50 or more sacks (five), something that has not been achieved by any team since the 1980s. Three clubs share the NFL record for most consecutive years with 50+ sacks—the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and Washington Football Team—with all three of those teams setting the mark between 1983-87.

The 1-2 Steelers return to action on Sunday, October 3 with a road game against the Green Bay Packers.

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