The highest NFL pass-rushing duos of the sack period


By including J.J. Watt to workforce up with Chandler Jones, the Cardinals now have two All-Decade cross rushers. Pairing the acclaimed sackers brings super potential. Listed here are the twosomes the brand new Arizona tandem will try to affix. These are the highest pass-rushing duos of the sack period (1982-present).

 

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25. Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt (feat. Jadeveon Clowney)

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Few NFL stretches match Watt’s emergence. Working extra as an inside rusher throughout his early-2010s breakout, Watt grew to become the lone NFLer to supply two 20-sack seasons. And he holds this century’s prime three tackle-for-loss slates. Even within the season, he didn’t win Defensive Participant of the 12 months acclaim (2013), Watt’s four-year run of main the league in QB hits didn’t stop. A 2012 first-rounder, Mercilus was a stable sufficient counterpart. He reeled off a 12-sack season in 2015. Houston boasted three top-10 defenses throughout this span. Although accidents stopped Watt and Clowney from teaming up a lot, they mixed for 25 sacks in 2018.

 

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24. Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter

Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter

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Mike Zimmer’s protection was a top-10 unit all through Hunter and Griffen’s 5 years collectively. Minnesota’s defensive finish duo performed a key position within the workforce reserving three playoff berths in 5 years — with three totally different QBs. Not a starter till his third season, Hunter nonetheless grew to become the youngest participant ever to succeed in 50 sacks. He now has two 14.5-sack seasons. Griffen spent his first 4 years as a backup however made 4 Professional Bowls whereas working with Hunter. They mixed for a minimum of 20 sacks in 4 seasons and pressured Drew Brees persistently within the Vikings’ 2019 playoff upset. The Vikings protection with out them in 2020…much less good.

 

Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap

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Extra of a lifetime achievement-based placement, this Bengals pair performed collectively for almost a decade. The 2010 draftees are far and away the highest sackers in workforce historical past — Dunlap with 82.5, Atkins with 75.5. The sting-interior tandem proved important throughout Cincinnati’s five-year streak of wild-card berths, and Atkins (eight Professional Bowls) has been one among this century’s prime inside rushers. Dunlap’s impression in Seattle final season illustrated his capabilities, and whereas he was Atkins’ sidekick, the sting rusher stays the Bengals’ single-season sack chief. Cincy’s playoff shortcomings restricted this duo for recognition. 

 

Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul

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For 2 gamers not on monitor to obtain Corridor of Fame busts, the Buccaneers’ outdoors linebackers have made a considerable impression in simply two years collectively. Tampa Bay’s edges led the way in which in halting the NFL MVP’s comeback cost within the NFC championship sport, sacking Aaron Rodgers 5 instances, and held one of many scariest cross offenses ever to a nine-point Tremendous Bowl. A Von Miller apprentice, Barrett has joined his ex-teammate in changing into a menace for proper tackles. He has 31.5 sacks in two Bucs slates. Pierre-Paul has shaken off two doubtlessly career-ending accidents to develop into one of many NFL’s most constant rushers. 

 

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21. Ray Childress and Sean Jones (feat. William Fuller)

Ray Childress and Sean Jones (feat. William Fuller)

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The Oilers of this period grew to become recognized extra for Warren Moon’s Run and Shoot offense, however the workforce was by no means within the backside half on protection throughout this trio’s six seasons collectively. A handful inside, Childress anchored Houston’s rush and sound run protection. The five-time Professional Bowler helped Jones and Fuller, however the Oilers’ edge duo produced out and in of Houston and did so effectively into their 30s. Jones and Fuller mixed for 5 double-digit sack seasons as Oilers and every compiled 100-plus as professionals. This D-line is without doubt one of the extra underrated crews; it was 6-for-6 in playoff berths (1988-93).

 

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20. Peter Boulware and Michael McCrary

Peter Boulware and Michael McCrary

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Ray Lewis’ prime linebacker sidekick doesn’t obtain almost as a lot credit score, however Boulware was instrumental in driving arguably the best single-season protection in trendy NFL historical past. An out of doors ‘backer in Baltimore’s 4-3 scheme, Boulware additionally rushed QBs on passing downs; he acquired residence lots. He and McCrary, a 1997 free company add, teamed up for four-plus seasons. Three of these produced top-two defenses. Boulware posted 15 sacks in 2001, whereas McCrary — a D-end — had six in Baltimore’s 4 2000 playoff video games to clinch a Tremendous Bowl crown. They mixed for 5 Professional Bowls as teammates; a knee harm ended Boulware’s prime quickly after.

 

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19. Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt (feat. Bud Dupree)

Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt (feat. Bud Dupree)

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The Steelers have led the NFL in sacks in every of the previous 4 seasons. The NFL’s prime inside-outside pair of the second led that cost, with Watt serving to open the league’s eyes to Heyward’s talents. Whereas T.J.’s breakout can’t match J.J.’s, the youngest Watt has 42.5 sacks and 16 compelled fumbles since 2018 and has ignited the most recent Steeler sack surge. Dupree belatedly realizing his promise has overshadowed Heyward to some extent, however he and Watt each have two All-Professional honors since 2017. He has been a handful for inside O-linemen. This partnership has shifted Pittsburgh again to a defense-oriented workforce.

 

Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp

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If solely these two had performed collectively longer. The Buccaneers scored huge in the course of the 2001 free company interval, signing Rice and QB Brad Johnson. One of many sack period’s best rushers, Rice supplied Sapp an edge counterpart as his prime wound down. Sapp ceded his place because the Bucs’ best participant to Rice, who ripped off 42 sacks throughout their time collectively (2001-03). The ex-Cardinals defensive finish posted six between the 2001-02 postseasons, dropping Wealthy Gannon twice in Tampa Bay’s Tremendous Bowl XXXVII rout. Each have been All-Professionals in 2002, main an all-time protection. However Sapp was a Raider by 2004.

 

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17. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett (feat. Frank Clark)

Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett (feat. Frank Clark)

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Just one post-merger protection has led the NFL in factors allowed in 4 straight seasons. Three of these years concerned Avril and Bennett. The Legion of Increase overshadows the defensive ends’ work, however the Seahawks’ 2013 free agent signings have been important in altering the workforce’s trajectory. Bennett thrived each inside and outside, anchoring Seattle’s D-line. This pair solely mixed for 2 10-sack seasons in four-plus years collectively, although Clark added one off the bench, its impression was clear. Avril’s front-side rush buried the Broncos in Tremendous Bowl XLVIII; his concussion in Tremendous Bowl XLIX might have saved the Patriots a 12 months later.

 

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16. Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Randy White (feat. Jim Jeffcoat)

Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Randy White (feat. Jim Jeffcoat)

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Rating the final leg of “Doomsday” is hard, as a result of White and Jones fashioned an elite duo effectively earlier than the sack period started. However since we’re charting solely rush arsenals’ post-1982 work, they land right here. Every thrived previous age 30. A double-team magnet, White was a first-team All-Professional D-tackle from 1982-85. The Cowboys completed within the prime 5 in sacks from 1982-85, with the supremely gifted 6-foot-9 finish posting 13 sacks at age 34 in ’85. The eye Jones and White acquired opened the door for Jeffcoat, a 1983 rookie who caught round by way of Dallas’ early-’90s Tremendous Bowls. By no means a Professional Bowler, he nonetheless logged 102.5 sacks.

 

James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley

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The Steelers ventured to 2 Tremendous Bowls in a three-year span, posting the highest defensive DVOA marks in each the 2008 and ’10 seasons. Harrison and Woodley performed central roles. Pittsburgh didn’t unleash Harrison till Joey Porter’s 2007 exit. Starting that season, he and Woodley started a long-term partnership. Harrison made the following 5 Professional Bowls, changing into a robust edge rusher who compelled 14 fumbles from 2007-08. He punctuated that Defensive Participant of the 12 months slate with a memorable Tremendous Bowl sequence. Woodley made only one Professional Bowl however had three 10-sack seasons and added six throughout Pittsburgh’s 2008 playoff run.

 

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14. Charles Mann and Dexter Manley

Charles Mann and Dexter Manley

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Taking part in within the NFC on the similar time Corridor of Fame defensive ends Reggie White, Richard Dent and Chris Doleman did, Washington’s duo is gentle on Professional Bowls. However the workforce acquired regular manufacturing from Mann and high-ceiling work from Manley, its enigmatic blindside rusher. Washington pulled off a number of upsets within the 1987 playoffs, en path to a Tremendous Bowl rout, due to its Manley-Mann tandem combining for 7.5 postseason sacks. They teamed up for seven seasons, previous to Manley’s drug-related suspension, combining for seven double-digit sack slates.

 

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13. Howie Lengthy and Greg Townsend (feat. Invoice Pickel)

Howie Long and Greg Townsend (feat. Bill Pickel)

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Recognized extra now for his broadcasting work, Lengthy gave the Raiders versatile, high-floor work throughout his 12-year profession. The flat-topped Corridor of Famer performed outside- and inside-rushing roles for the Raiders. Arriving forward of the then-Los Angeles Raiders’ 1983 Tremendous Bowl title, Townsend is the franchise’s all-time sack chief (109.5; twenty third all-time). He and Lengthy teamed up on the L.A. D-line for 11 seasons, with Pickel offering inside rush help from his nostril deal with spot early in his profession. Throughout Pickel’s pass-rushing heyday within the mid-’80s, the Raiders ranked within the prime three in sacks thrice in a four-year span. 

 

Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd

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The NFL’s No. 3 all-time sacker, Greene made his three-year Steelers run depend. The maniacal edge rusher teamed with Lloyd from 1993-95 to resurrect the Steelers’ defensive fame. Greene, 31 when he signed with Pittsburgh, remained elite and teamed with homegrown expertise Lloyd. A fearsome presence at outdoors linebacker, Lloyd created havoc as a rusher and tackler. He completed with 27 compelled fumbles from 1991-95. Each have been All-Professionals in 1994. The duo then lifted the Steelers to Tremendous Bowl XXX in ’95. The period then abruptly ended quickly after; Greene left for Carolina and an harm ended Lloyd’s prime.

 

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11. Chris Doleman and Keith Millard

Chris Doleman and Keith Millard

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Doleman performed 15 seasons and didn’t lose a lot steam. The Corridor of Fame defensive finish was dropping QBs often into his late 30s as a 49er. His most memorable work got here as a Viking when he fashioned a top-end tandem with Millard within the Nineteen Eighties. Doleman and Millard’s 1989 season — 39 sacks, two All-Professionals, Millard incomes Defensive Participant of the 12 months honors — is the perfect by a duo within the sack period. The playoff-bound Vikings led the NFL in complete protection in 1988 and ’89; they owed that mainly to their sackers. A Millard 1990 harm lower his prime quick, however he and Doleman completed lots of their 5 prior years collectively.

 

Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko

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Sacks got here to look on stat pages partly due to Lawrence Taylor’s emergence. One other key position within the stat’s 1982 rookie 12 months: Klecko and Gastineau’s 1981 dominance. The leaders of the “New York Sack Change” every posted 20 sacks, making their rating difficult as a result of these will not be official numbers. However Gastineau’s sack dances have been commonplace within the years that adopted; the Jets defensive finish mixed for 41 — together with a then-record 22 in 1984 — in a two-year span. Klecko moved across the formation, making the Professional Bowl at three spots, however by no means approached his 1981 peak once more. The NYSE stays a prime bullet level in sack lore.

 

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9. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora (feat. Michael Strahan and Jason Pierre-Paul)

Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora (feat. Michael Strahan and Jason Pierre-Paul)

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This group might have the title for sack-era depth. Whereas Strahan is a Corridor of Famer and JPP posted the perfect season of a Giants cross rusher on this interval (2011), Umenyiora and Tuck have been collectively the longest. They made their six-year keep depend. A slim pace rusher, Umenyiora has a six-sack sport and a 10-forced fumble season on his resume. When the Giants’ NASCAR package deal assembled, Tuck battled guards as an elite inside rusher. He broke out with a two-sack Tremendous Bowl XLII and once more dropped Tom Brady twice within the Giants’ second Tremendous Bowl upset. Solely totaling 4 Professional Bowls, Osi and Tuck considerably impacted the league for a time.

 

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8. Cornelius Bennett and Bruce Smith

Cornelius Bennett and Bruce Smith

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The worth of Smith’s longtime wingman shouldn’t be neglected. A do-it-all outdoors linebacker, Bennett was a Nineties All-Decade teamer who as soon as fetched two first-round picks and a second-rounder in a three-team 1987 commerce (the Eric Dickerson deal). The previous No. 2 total decide teamed with Smith for 9 years, making the Professional Bowl 5 instances and offering a high-caliber bookend. All Smith did was guide eight All-Professional honors, end because the NFL’s sack king (200), and be the perfect participant on 4 AFC champions. Left tackles got here up quick on many spin strikes throughout this era, and Bennett supplied regular backup vocals. 

 

Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware

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Ware missed time throughout two of his three seasons with Miller, however the Broncos made probably the most of this traditionally proficient partnership. After the Elvis Dumervil fax machine fiasco , Miller gained a good higher sidekick in 2014. Ware nonetheless had lots left in Denver, and his position throughout among the best playoff pass-rushing shows goes neglected. Ware totaled 2.5 sacks and 11 QB hits on Tom Brady and Cam Newton; his two-point strain on Brady cemented Denver’s AFC title. Ware’s years doubled as Miller’s apex. His tour de pressure stretch in Tremendous Bowl 50 entrenched the 2015 Broncos as an all-time protection. This era will spotlight every’s Canton montage.

 

Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis

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Combining longevity and upper-crust manufacturing, the Colts’ speed-rushing pair led two defenses to Tremendous Bowls (Peyton Manning helped, however nonetheless). Freeney and Mathis teamed up for 10 seasons. Eleven double-digit sack slates adopted, with the undersized D-ends sustaining their elite rush capabilities effectively into their 30s. Freeney’s spin transfer was one of the identifiable sequences in 2000s NFL highlights, whereas Mathis — who produced yearly as a backup over his first three seasons — led the league in compelled fumbles thrice. Each completed their careers as top-20 all-time sackers.

 

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5. Leonard Marshall and Lawrence Taylor

Leonard Marshall and Lawrence Taylor

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It will have been unfair to present Invoice Belichick and the perfect defensive participant ever an elite sidekick. However Marshall goes neglected in NFL annals. A 3-4 finish who performed inside extensively on Belichick’s first defenses, Marshall made two Professional Bowls and compiled three 10-sack seasons. He sacked John Elway twice in Tremendous Bowl XXI and acquired to Jim Kelly as soon as in Tremendous Bowl XXV. Marshall is clearly recognized extra for the crushing NFC title sport hit that doubled as Joe Montana’s final related 49er play. Taylor’s unparalleled items modified soccer, as Sandra Bullock as soon as defined. The Giants’ linebacker icon is on the NFL’s Mt. Rushmore. 

 

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4. Rickey Jackson and Pat Swilling

Rickey Jackson and Pat Swilling

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Not often have linebackers impacted a workforce’s trajectory like this. New Orleans’ “Dome Patrol” troops modified a woeful franchise’s fortunes. The Saints’ Jackson-Swilling-Sam Mills-Vaughan Johnson quartet mixed for 20 Professional Bowls; Jackson and Swilling dealt with New Orleans’ pass-rushing duties in seven seasons collectively. This duo paired a Corridor of Famer (Jackson) with the 1991 Defensive Participant of the 12 months, with Swilling posting a 16.5-sack season and a 17-sack slate as a Saint. Jackson maintained his effectiveness into his mid-30s to steer this group. The Saints made 4 playoff journeys from 1987-92 and closed the period with back-to-back No. 1 defensive rankings.

 

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3. Neil Smith and Derrick Thomas

Neil Smith and Derrick Thomas

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The Chiefs used prime sources to kind this edge tandem, drafting Smith second total in 1988 and taking Thomas fourth in ’89. The latter’s lightning-quick first step put him on frequent collision programs with QBs. For speed-rush success, Thomas is on the highest tier. He has a 20-sack season, a file seven-sack sport, and a six-sack sport. Thomas and Smith performed eight seasons collectively, and the latter — a defensive finish — led the NFL in sacks in 1993, however the Corridor of Fame outdoors ‘backer was at all times the workforce’s centerpiece. The duo drove Kansas Metropolis to 6 playoff berths, with 4 totally different QBs, creating one of many trendy NFL’s most dependable defenses.

 

Richard Dent and Dan Hampton

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On the heart of probably the most celebrated protection ever — the 1985 Bears — Dent and Hampton led helped a special workforce set the single-season sack file. Unleashed in Buddy Ryan’s 46 protection, the 1984 Bears recorded 72 sacks. Dent and Hampton mixed for 29 of these, and Dent — a Chicago D-end till 1993 — adopted that up by main the league with 17 for the Tremendous Bowl champs. A D-tackle who moved round and catalyzed these revered defenses, Hampton missed time attributable to knee points within the late ’80s however teamed with Dent till 1990. The Corridor of Famers had assist, however they have been the first disruptors on the trendy NFL’s most disruptive protection.

 

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1. Clyde Simmons and Reggie White (feat. Jerome Brown)

Clyde Simmons and Reggie White (feat. Jerome Brown)

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The NFL’s D-line cross rusher GOAT had high quality sidekicks, notably throughout his Eagles days. A ninth-round decide, Simmons beat the chances to develop into a longtime sack artist; his 121.5 are twenty first all time. White’s commonest Philly D-end counterpart was a two-time All-Professional, main the NFL with 19.5 sacks in 1992. Simmons, White, and Brown — a Corridor of Fame-caliber expertise at D-tackle — all made the 1991 All-Professional workforce. Brown’s tragic 1992 demise hit the Eagles exhausting, however White and Simmons have been teammates for seven years. White throughout that point: six All-Professionals, 21 sacks in a 12-game season. The facility rusher’s Philly years are among the finest by a defender ever.

Sam Robinson is a Kansas Metropolis, Mo.-based author who principally writes concerning the NFL. He has coated sports activities for almost 10 years. Boxing, the Royals and Pandora stations that includes feminine rock protagonists are a few of his go-tos. Sometimes attention-grabbing tweets @SRobinson25.



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