Khalil Mack had five of them. Dee Ford, Mo Wilkerson and Aaron Donald each had three.
The sacks brigades were out in Week 14 to the tune of a season-high 86. Quarterback knockdowns played a huge role in the outcomes of their games. That could become a trend in the NFL’s stretch run.
Sacks are like slam dunks, worth only one tackle, but with a carry-over effect that can change the course of any match. That was certainly true in the cases of Oakland’s Mack and Kansas City’s Ford, who were virtually unblockable in the second half of their team’s victories Sunday.
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In a pass-happy league, the only weapon more valuable than a quarterback who can tear apart defenses is a pass rusher who can rip up the QB’s protection. Eleven players had multiple sacks this week, according to STATS.
Their skills aren’t merely reflected by the stats. For Mack’s five sacks, giving him a league-best 14 for the season, there were maybe another half-dozen on which he was oh so close.
“What you see statistically, it doesn’t really determine whether you think is better or not, but at the same time, I’m going to keep working to get better,” Mack said.
The Broncos and the rest of the NFL can only shudder to think about that prospect for a linebacker many are comparing to Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas.
“The way he can get around the corner and bend and get low to the ground,” says Raiders safety Charles Woodson, now in his 18th pro season, “it kind of reminds you of Derrick Thomas. I remember playing Derrick Thomas my first game in the NFL against the Chiefs and he had six sacks against us. Today, Khalil kind of reminded me of that.”
Just think how that feels from the quarterback’s perspective.
“I felt the pressure, I knew it was coming,” Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler says of Mack, a second-year pro. “Obviously, I knew that he would be coming quick. ... He got there faster than I could get the football out.
“Mack is still as good as anybody in this league after this game. He played a tremendous football game. Sometimes it’s hard to do, but sometimes you have to give credit to the opposing team when credit is due. Mack played a phenomenal football game.”