Sacks have been an official NFL statistic since 1982, which omits a large part of history. Players like Mean Joe Greene, Merlin Olsen and Alan Page aren’t on the list.
But 33 seasons worth of data is available and more than 250 players have recorded at least 38 career sacks.
Sunday, Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali joined the top 50 during a 33-3 victory over the Chargers.
With his two second-half sacks totaling 20 yards, Hali ran his season total to 7 1/2 and career output to 85.
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That allowed him to pass Howie Long and join Osi Umenyiora in a tie for 49th place. The top two of all time are Bruce Smith (200) and Reggie White (198)
Among active players, Hali ranks 10th, a list that starts with Jared Allen with 136 and DeMarcus Ware with 133 1/2 .
His multi-sack game gives Hali 20 for his career. On Derrick Thomas, with 27, has more for the Chiefs.
“It feels good to be mentioned with some of the greatest guys who have ever rushed the passer,” Hali said. “I don’t want to downplay it, but I don’t want to take attention away from what we’re doing here.”
What the Chiefs are doing is mowing down opponents during a four-game winning streak with a rousing defense.
The Chiefs had Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers on the run all afternoon, hounding him into season-low 178 passing yards and the team to a season-low 201 total yards. The Chargers entered the game fourth in the NFL in total offense (413.9 yards) and Rivers’ second in passing yards (337).
Hali led a disruptive force that included Justin Houston’s interception return for a touchdown, the first score of his career. But Houston seemed happier for Hali.
“He’s been playing great,” Houston said of the four-time Pro Bowler in his 10th season. “We feed off each other. That’s my big brother. He’s taught me things that have helped me in my career, and I’m always happy for him any time he does something great.”
Hali’s sacks came while the game was still competitive. The Chiefs led 12-3 at halftime and the Chargers got the second-half kickoff. On a second-and-11 from the San Diego 19, Hali bulled through and dropped Rivers for a 7-yard loss.
One series later, Hali chased Rivers back even father and sacked him for a 13-yard loss. That gave him 13 1/2 sacks in his career against Rivers, more than twice as many as any other quarterback.
“The third quarter started out as disastrous as it could have,” Rivers said. “It’s my fault, but I don’t know if there’s anything I could have done.”
Things got so bad for the Chargers on Sunday that Rivers and tight end and longtime teammate Antonio Gates bickered on the sideline.
“Really, what he said doesn’t matter,” Rivers said. “Brothers fuss and fight.”
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are getting along fine in large part because a defense loaded with veterans like Hali is playing at its highest level this season.
“We’re a close-knit group,” Hali said. “We pride ourselves on coming out and playing hard and playing relentless all the time.”