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James Harrison’s two-sack Patriots debut carries a little history along with it

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Since James Harrison entered the league, only 12 have done what he did Sunday more frequently.

New York Jets v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

According to Pro Football Reference, 590 players have recorded two or more sacks in a game since the start of the 2002 regular season.

Not one sack. Not one-and-a-half sacks. But at least two sacks.

James Harrison reached that mark for the 18th time in his career Sunday afternoon against the New York Jets. And that is if excluding the playoffs.

“James Harrison is who he is – that's not a surprise,” defensive end Trey Flowers told reporters in the locker room after the 26-6 victory, via Patriots.com. “He's been doing it for so many years. It felt good for him to be doing it for us instead of against us.”

Eight days after his Pittsburgh Steelers exit and five days after his New England Patriots arrival, the 39-year-old outside linebacker was back along the edges in his tinted visor and No. 92 jersey. And in Harrison’s sights on the game’s final two downs was Jets quarterback Bryce Petty.

What followed went in the gamebook like this:

Fourth quarter, first-and-10, 1:22 remaining: B. Petty sacked at New England 48 by J. Harrison for loss of nine yards, fumble recovered by Jets

Fourth quarter, second-and-19, 0:37 remaining: B. Petty sacked at New England 49 by J. Harrison for loss of one yard

“I was just rushing outside and they were passing a lot,” Harrison said during his postgame meeting with the media. “So, I had good opportunities to get around the corner. For the other one, I was able to cut back underneath the guard, and the quarterback was scrambling. It felt good.”

It was one way to make a final first impression. And Harrison, who logged one sack in 40 snaps with the Steelers this season, hadn’t recorded two in a single game since last November. But not too many others have recorded two in a single game more frequently than Harrison has since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2002.

Harrison saw action on special teams in one contest that season and spent part of 2003 with the Baltimore Ravens, who briefly sent him to the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe before he was cut for the fourth time in his career. He returned to Pittsburgh in 2004, played in all 16 games, and got the first sack on his resume against then-Cleveland Brown Jeff Garcia.

The oldest defensive player in the league has 84.5 to his name now. And a fair share have been accrued like they were on New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium – with company.

HARRISON’S LOG OF TWO OR MORE SACKS

  • Nov. 5, 2007 vs. Ravens: 3.5
  • Sept. 7, 2008 vs. Texans: 3
  • Sept. 29, 2008 vs. Ravens: 2.5
  • Oct. 19, 2008 vs. Bengals: 2
  • Nov. 30, 2008 vs. Patriots: 2
  • Oct. 4, 2009 vs. Chargers: 2
  • Oct. 11, 2009 vs. Lions: 3
  • Oct. 25, 2009 vs. Vikings: 2
  • Sept. 19, 2010 vs. Titans: 2
  • Oct. 17, 2010 vs. Browns: 2
  • Nov. 21, 2010 vs. Raiders: 2
  • Nov. 6, 2011 vs. Ravens: 3
  • Dec. 4, 2011 vs. Bengals: 3
  • Oct. 26, 2014 vs. Colts: 2
  • Nov. 2, 2014 vs. Ravens: 2
  • Dec. 6, 2015 vs. Colts: 3
  • Nov. 6, 2016 vs. Ravens: 2
  • Dec. 31, 2017 vs. Jets: 2

Harrison has gathered a pair of sacks or more in five games against Baltimore and two games against Cincinnati and Indianapolis. He’s also done so once against Houston, New England, San Diego, Detroit, Minnesota, Tennessee, Cleveland, Oakland and New York.

In turn, it should serve as no surprise that the list of those who’ve registered more two-sack games than Harrison over the last 16 regular seasons is not long.

Nor is it short on names.

MOST GAMES WITH TWO-PLUS SACKS SINCE 2002

  • Jared Allen: 35
  • Julius Peppers: 29
  • Robert Mathis: 26
  • John Abraham, Elvis Dumervil, DeMarcus Ware: 25
  • Dwight Freeney: 24
  • Terrell Suggs, J.J. Watt: 21
  • Jason Taylor: 20
  • Osi Umenyiora, Mario Williams: 19
  • Trent Cole, James Harrison: 18

Rounding it out is the 6-foot, 242-pound Kent State product.

Harrison is tied with Trent Cole for the 12th-most games with at least two sacks over that span, per PFR. Just behind them sits old teammate and current Steelers outside linebackers coach Joey Porter, as well as the Kansas City Chiefs’ Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.

So while Harrison’s first couple sacks as a Patriot transpired in the closing seconds of a 20-point, Week 17 game, they still counted just the same.

They’d count differently in January as another season begins.