Reporters wanted Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to explain how in the world he could be sacked 10 times in Sunday’s 24-9 loss to the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“We all have a day like that,” he said.
The NFL made sacks an official statistic in 1982. The league probably looked at Lawrence Taylor’s 1981 rookie season and figured sacks — a term coined by Deacon Jones two decades earlier — finally would be worth charting for posterity.
Anyway, from 1982 to 2017 — 36 seasons — there were only 27 games in which one quarterback was sacked 10 or more times, according to Pro Football Reference. In the past month, it’s happened twice. Besides Stafford, the Ravens sacked Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota 11 times.
“When you have a defensive front like ours,” said Vikings backup defensive tackle Tom Johnson, “you keep pushing for scraps because you know everybody’s going to eat.”
Johnson is 34. He was released by Seattle two months ago. Sunday, in the sixth game of his second career resurrection stint with the Vikings, he posted a career-high 2½ sacks.
So, no, Matthew, Sunday wasn’t just another game.
The NFL record for being sacked in one game since 1982 is 12. Warren Moon, playing in the Houston Oilers’ old run-and-shoot, went down that many times against the Cowboys in 1985. Donovan McNabb tied the mark against the Giants in 2007.
Ten players have been sacked 11 times in one game, including Archie Manning when he was playing for the Vikings against the Bears in 1984.
So how do 10, 11, 12 NFL sacks feel? Thankfully, most of us will never know. But those of us talking to Bernie Kosar inside the old Hoosier Dome the afternoon of Sept. 6, 1992 got a better sense of how 11 of them must feel.
This was 26 years ago. Player safety was a benefit a player got when he retired.
FieldTurf, with its soft blades of artificial grass and thick layering of rubber pellets, hadn’t been created yet. AstroTurf, which essentially was carpeted cement with career-threatening seams, was in its fourth decade since first being used when the AFL’s Houston Oilers moved into the Astrodome in 1968.
When Kosar met with reporters after the Browns’ 14-3 loss in that ’92 opener, he looked like a man who had fallen off a motorcycle speeding down the highway.
These eyes have never seen as many rug burns, welts and blossoming bruises on another NFL player after a game.
Usually, any conversation about sacks allowed includes the name David Carr. The former Texans quarterback owns two of the top three spots for most times sacked in a season.
He posted the record (76) in 2002 and the third-highest total (68) in 2005. But nobody has endured a month of punishment like the man who sits between Carr’s two spots on that list.
In 1986, Randall Cunningham was a second-year pro who started five games while splitting time with Ron Jaworski and Matt Cavanaugh with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The three of them were sacked a stunning 104 times — a record that still stands — with Cunningham absorbing 72 of them.
On Nov. 16, 1986, the Lions sacked Cunningham 10 times.
A week later, the Seahawks sacked him nine times.
A week later, the Raiders sacked him 11 times.
And a week after that, the St. Louis Cardinals sacked him 10 times.
Six years later, Seattle sacked Cunningham 10 times.
So, for his career, Cunningham, one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the history of the league, had four games in which he was sacked 10 or more times. The other 26 players on that list are listed only once.
Of course, the Vikings do travel to Detroit on Dec. 23. So, look out, Matthew.
On Sunday, reporters asked Lions guard Graham Glasgow how 10 sacks in one game will impact an offensive line going forward.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “This has never happened to me before. We better fix our mistakes, so this doesn’t happen again.”
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org