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Jason Pierre-Paul Joins Bucs' Pass-Rushing Greats

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The first great pass-rusher in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history was Lee Roy Selmon, who was also the first college draft pick the franchise ever made. Tampa Bay made the right choice with the first-overall pick in 1976, getting a player who would set a franchise record with 78.5 career sacks* and eventually gain admission into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.

Sacks were not an official NFL statistic until 1982 but were still tracked in the season's prior to that and the Buccaneers have recorded totals for their players dating back to that 1976 inaugural season. Selmon posted the first four double-digit sack campaigns in franchise history (1977, 1978, 1979, 1983) but no other Buccaneer had one until Broderick Thomas made the board with 11 sacks in 1991. The following year, rookie DT Santana Dotson had 10 sacks for the Buccaneers to become the third player on the list.

After Dotson there was another short drought of 10-sack seasons for the franchise until the Bucs' golden era of defense began in 1997. Tampa Bay had two double-digit sack masters that season in Warren Sapp and Chidi Ahanotu, and that accomplishment soon be commonplace. From 1997-2005, a stretch in which Tampa Bay finished in the top 10 in the league's defensive ranking every year, the Bucs ranked sixth in the NFL with 381 total sacks. They had 10 individual double-digit sack seasons in that nine-year span, including five by Simeon Rice.

The last of Rice's 10-plus sack seasons was in 2005, when he had 14.0. After that, a franchise drought of such campaigns began that stretched more than a dozen years…until Jason Pierre-Paul stopped it this past Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

Pierre-Paul's second-quarter sack of quarterback Nick Mullens pushed his 2018 total to 10.5 sacks, officially giving the Buccaneers their first 10-sack man since Rice in '05.

The Buccaneers traded a third-round pick in the 2018 draft and swapped fourth-round choices in order to get Pierre-Paul from the New York Giants and address their pass-rush woes. After ranking last in the NFL with 22 defensive sacks in 2017, the Bucs overhauled their front line with the additions of Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, Mitch Unrein and Vita Vea. Unrein has been unable to play this season due to a concussion but a waiver-wire pickup of Carl Nassib (5.5 sacks) gave the Bucs another piece to the puzzle. Pierre-Paul has been the most productive of those additions, as his sack total is tied for the fourth-highest in the NFL.

NFL Sack Leaders, 2018

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In addition to his sack on Sunday, Pierre-Paul was also credited with a second quarterback hit, giving him 17 on the season to lead the team by two over Gerald McCoy and his 15. Pierre-Paul is tied for seventh in the NFL in that category.

NFL QB Hit Leaders, 2018

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Pierre-Paul needed just 11 games to end the Buccaneers' much-publicized 10-sack drought. He is the fifth player in team history to reach double digits in sacks through the first 11 games of a season, and the first since Rice did it in 2003. There have now been eight such seasons, including an unofficial one for Selmon in 1978.

10-Plus Sacks Through First 11 Games of a Season, Buccaneers History

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The Buccaneers' defense collected four sacks for the second game in a row after doing the same against the New York Giants in Week 11. That's the first time a Tampa Bay defense has recorded consecutive four-sack games since the opening two contests of 2013, when it had five against the Jets and four against the Saints.

In addition to Pierre-Paul, defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Vita Vea each collected one sack, as did defensive end Carl Nassib. That's the first time the Bucs have had four different defensive linemen get a sack in the same game since the Nov. 12 game against the Jets last season. McCoy had two in that game and fellow linemen Clinton McDonald, Will Clarke and Darryl Tapp had one apiece.

McCoy missed two games in the middle of the this season with a calf injury but has been back in Pro Bowl return since his return in Week Nine. In the four games since, McCoy has collected 4.5 sacks, which is tied for the second-most in the entire NFL in that span.

Most Sacks, NFL, Weeks 9-12

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McCoy's sack on Sunday gives him 6.0 on the season, a level he has now reached for six consecutive seasons after picking up 5.0 sacks in 2012, the first of his six straight Pro Bowl campaigns. McCoy is one of only five players in the NFL who have had at least six sacks in each of the last six seasons, including the first 11 games of 2018. He is the only defensive tackle on the last.

Most Six

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Given that, it's not surprising that McCoy is near the top of the league in overall sacks in that six-year span at the defensive tackle position. He trails only the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald of the Rams.

Most Sacks by a Defensive Tackle, 2013-18

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Vea, the Buccaneers' first-round pick in the 2018 draft, registered the second sack of his debut season and also had three tackles for loss. He is the first Tampa Bay rookie defender to have three or more tackles for loss in a single game since current teammate Lavonte David did so against Denver on Dec. 2, 2012.

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