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New Pre-1982 Sack Research Puts Steel Curtain’s Accomplishments into New Perspective

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The Steel Curtain defenses of the 1970s were some of the most fearsome in NFL history, but there greatness has always been difficult to quantify considering the league did not begin tracking sacks until 1982.

Thanks to some tedious, but rewarding research from John Turney and Nick Webster of Pro Football Reference, we have better insight into just how dominant they were.

Turney and Webster took decades to parse through play-by-play, game film, coaches’ stats and photographs in attempt to account for sacks prior to 1982.

While a number of Steeler legends saw their sack totals skyrocket following the research, no one benefitted more than L.C. Greenwood.

Greenwood is now second on the Steelers’ all-time sacks list with 78, trailing only James Harrison.

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Already one of the most feared defensive linemen in league history, Joe Greene’s career sack total elevated to 77.5, which is good enough for third on the franchise leaderboard.

Dwight White and Ernie Holmes saw their totals rise to 55 and 39.5, respectively. Andy Russell is now credited with 38 sacks.

The duo of Jack Lambert and Jack Ham was a menace for quarterbacks league-wide during their playing careers, and their stats now reflect that as well. Ham had 25.5 career sacks, while Lambert totaled 23.5.

Set to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month, safety Donnie Shell now reached the quarterback on 9.5 occasions.

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