Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ageless Wonder at 38, Linebacker Harrison Still Punishing Opposing Quarterbacks

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ageless Wonder at 38, Linebacker Harrison Still Punishing Opposing Quarterbacks

Article excerpt

Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Smith has the most sacks in NFL history. He reached 200 over his 19-year career with the Bills and Redskins. Steelers linebacker James Harrison will never catch Smith in sacks or years played, but he could one-up Smith for a record that combines longevity and production.

Smith has the most sacks in an NFL season for a player 38 years or older, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He had nine when he was with the Redskins in 2002, the same season Harrison made his debut with the Steelers.

Harrison, 38, needs four sacks over the final four games to tie Smith and five to set a new mark for a player his age. That might seem like a tall task, but Harrison has five sacks in the past five games and is playing as well as he has since coming out of retirement three games into the 2014 season.

"It's great to see James Harrison still playing," Buffalo coach Rex Ryan said. "I think the world of him. He whipped Father Time. He whipped a lot of players, too, but he whipped Father Time as well. He's playing great."

Harrison has a sack in three consecutive games for the fifth time in his career and for the first time since he did it in 2012. Since coming out of retirement in September of 2014 he has 15 sacks, the most of any Steelers outside linebacker in that time. He leads the Steelers in sacks this season.

After starting the season as a reserve and sharing time with Jarvis Jones, Harrison is a starter again. He played 75 percent of the defensive snaps against the Giants. And in addition to getting career sack No. 81, he scored the first points of the game for the Steelers when Giants tackle Ereck Flowers held him in the end zone.

"James is a power player," coach Mike Tomlin said. "It's a physical aspect of his game and that's highly appreciated. But if you're not careful, you miss the fact that he's highly skilled. …

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