January 02, 2023
One specific sack will define Brandon Graham's legacy in Philadelphia, forever etching himself into the city's vivid sports lore. The man with the Strip Sack Heard 'Round the World has the Super Bowl heroics every NFL player dreams of, but the 34-year-old defensive end finally has a regular season accolade that matches the consistency he's brought to the Eagles for more than a decade: double-digit sacks.
Graham entered Sunday's matchup against the Saints with nine sacks in 2022. His previous career high was 9.5 during that 2017 Super Bowl season. He's remained steady through four different coaching regimes and has played more games in an Eagles uniform than anyone save for David Akers, Brian Dawkins, and Harold Carmichael. Graham finally got his with a two-sack performance against New Orleans, giving him 11 on the year:
Brandon Graham records his 10th & 11th sacks of the season. 〽️ #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/A0ZiGrbtLw— Michigan Football on UMGoBlue (@UMGoBlog) January 1, 2023
The specialness of this moment will be overlooked given the Eagles' loss and the panic setting in as the team takes its attempt to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC down to the wire. I totally get any Eagles fan who's not in the mood to celebrate personal accomplishments after the Birds dropped back-to-back games for the first time all season. Graham, nevertheless, is an integral figure in Eagles history whose climb from shedding the dreaded "bust" label to his sack on Tom Brady to his first Pro Bowl appearance at age 32 to his 11-sack campaign is remarkable.
Under defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, this pass rush has been the best I've ever seen from the team. The Eagles shattered the 1989 team record of 62 sacks in a season. They're now up to 68. They are just four sacks shy of tying the 1984 Bears' NFL single-season high mark of 72.
Graham, the elder statesman in his 13th pro season and coming off a brutal Achilles tear that ended his 2021 season prematurely, is one of four Eagles to record double-digit sacks this year. No team has ever had that many players reach 10-plus sacks. Graham's 11 sacks are joined by Haason Reddick's 16 and 11 apiece between Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave.
This is a number Graham has long wanted to hit, much deserved for a buoyant personality who made the biggest Philly sports play ever. Something tells me, however, Graham would trade this for another ring come February.
Perhaps Graham will keep building upon this new career high come Week 18. The Birds will face a Giants team that Graham recorded three sacks against back in early December at the Meadowlands.
Follow Shamus & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @shamus_clancy | @thePhillyVoice
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports
Add Shamus' RSS feed to your feed reader