Khalil Mack nearly broke an NFL record with his 6.0 sacks against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday (October 1). In doing so, he became just the fifth player in NFL history to record at least 6.0 sacks in a single game and just the second player in NFL history to record at least 5.0 sacks twice in his career.
He also finished the game with 10 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1 pass defended, and 2 forced fumbles, but his 6.0 sacks got all the attention – especially since it came against the team that drafted him. Of course, we all remember how that played out – the Raiders didn’t want to pay him, so they traded him to Chicago.
Mack was traded to the Bears in 2018 and spent four years in Chicago before being traded to the LA Chargers in 2022. While he didn’t have a sack through the first three games of the 2023 season, his 6.0 sacks against the Raiders made up for it and helped him get revenge against a team that didn’t want him.
Which NFL Players Have the Most Sacks in a Single Game?
What we saw from Khalil Mack last week was something we don’t see very often. Getting one sack in the NFL is hard enough, but to do it six times in the same game is pretty special – especially considering he had zero sacks through the first three games of the season and had just 8.0 sacks in 17 games last year.
He might’ve entered Week 4 with zero sacks to his name, but he ended Week 4 with 6.0 sacks and is now in a three-way tie for the most sacks this season – T.J. Watt and Josh Allen have 6.0 sacks, as well. Mack hasn’t finished a season with double-digit sacks since 2018, but this could be a sign that he’s back.
With that said, let’s take a moment to appreciate the history we witnessed last week and commemorate those who came before him. For example, did you know there have only been 19 instances where a player had at least 5.0 sacks in a single game in NFL history? Let’s see if you remember any of them!
**For the sake of this article, we are only including games since 1982, when the sack became an official stat**
19. Howie Long – 5.0 sacks vs. Redskins (Oct. 2, 1983)
Los Angeles Raiders’ defensive end Howie Long had 5.0 sacks on Washington Redskins’ quarterback Joe Theismann in a 35-37 loss on October 2, 1983. Long, who was 23 years old and in his third year in the NFL, finished the 1983 season with a career-high 13.0 sacks and was named to his first Pro Bowl.
Long went on to play 13 seasons in the NFL and retired with 91.5 career sacks – including 13.0 sacks in 1983, 12.0 sacks in 1984 and 10.0 sacks in 1985. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler, two-time First-Team All-Pro, one-time Super Bowl champion, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
18. Randy Holloway – 5.0 sacks vs. Falcons (Sept. 16, 1984)
Minnesota Vikings’ defensive end Randy Holloway had 5.0 sacks on Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Steve Bartkowski in a 27-20 win on Sept. 16, 1984. Holloway, who was 29 years old and in his seventh and final year in the NFL, finished the 1984 season with 6.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries in 14 games.
Holloway only played in eight games for the Vikings in 1984, but was acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals and played another six games with them before retiring at the season’s end. In 103 career games played, he had 28.5 sacks, one safety, 9 fumble recoveries, one interception, and one defensive touchdown.
17. Jim Jeffcoat – 5.0 sacks vs. Redskins (Nov. 10, 1985)
Dallas Cowboys’ defensive end Jim Jeffcoat had 5.0 sacks on Washington Redskins’ quarterback Joe Theismann in a 13-7 win on November 10, 1985. Jeffcoat, who was 24 years old and in his third year in the NFL, finished the 1985 season with 77 tackles, 12.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries.
Jeffcoat went on to play 15 seasons in the NFL and retired with 724 tackles, 102.5 sacks, 18 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions, and 4 defensive touchdowns. He had double-digit sacks in five of his 15 seasons and was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Cowboys in 1992 and 1993.
16. Leslie O’Neal – 5.0 sacks vs. Cowboys (Nov. 16, 1986)
San Diego Chargers’ defensive end Leslie O’Neal had 5.0 sacks on Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Steve Pelluer in a 21-24 loss on November 16, 1986. O’Neal, who was a 22-year-old rookie, finished the 1986 season with 82 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions, and 1 TD.
O’Neal went on to play 13 seasons in the NFL and retired with 767 tackles, 132.5 sacks, 21 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, 2 defensive TDs. He was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1986, was a six-time Pro Bowler, and had double-digit sacks in 8 of his 13 seasons in the NFL.
15. Gary Jeter – 5.0 sacks vs. Raiders (Sept. 18, 1988)
Los Angeles Rams’ defensive end Gary Jeter had 5.0 sacks against Los Angeles Raiders’ quarterback Steve Beuerlein in a 22-17 win on September 18, 1988. Jeter, who was 33 years old and playing in his 12th year in the NFL, finished the 1988 season with 11.5 sacks in 15 games. He went on to retire in 1990.
Jeter was drafted by the Giants with the No. 5 overall pick in 1977 and went on to play 13 seasons in the NFL. He retired with 79.0 sacks and 6 fumble recoveries in 168 games with the Giants, Patriots, and Rams. He had a career-high 11.5 sacks in 1988, but also had 11.0 sacks in 1985 and 10.0 sacks in 1980.
14. Chuck Smith – 5.0 sacks vs. Saints (Oct. 12, 1997)
Atlanta Falcons’ defensive end Chuck Smith had 5.0 sacks against New Orleans Saints’ quarterbacks Heath Shuler and Danny Wuerffel in a 23-17 win on October 12, 1997. Smith, who was 28 years old and playing in his sixth year in the league, finished the 1997 season with 54 tackles and 12.0 sacks.
Smith was a second-round draft pick by the Falcons in 1992 and went on to spend nine years in the NFL. He retired after the 2000 season with 323 tackles, 58.5 sacks, 20 forced fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, and 2 defensive TDs. He was named a Second-Team All-Pro during the 1997 season.
13. Vonnie Holliday – 5.0 sacks vs. Bills (Dec. 22, 2002)
Green Bay Packers’ defensive end Vonnie Holliday had 5.0 sacks against Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Drew Bledsoe in a 10-0 win on Dec. 22, 2002. Holliday, who was a 27-year-old playing in his fifth season in the NFL, finished the 2002 campaign with 26 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 interception.
Holliday was a first-round draft pick of the Packers in 1998 and went on to spend 15 seasons in the NFL. He retired after the 2012 season with 599 tackles, 62.5 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries, and 2 interceptions. He finished in second in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting after the 1998 season.
12. Antwan Odom – 5.0 sacks vs. Packers (Sept. 20, 2009)
Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive end Antwan Odom had 5.0 sacks against Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a 31-24 win on September 20, 2009. Odom, who was a 28-year-old playing in his sixth season in the NFL, finished the 2009 season with 19 tackles, 8.0 sacks, 2 passes defended, and 9 TFLs.
Odom was a second-round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2004 and went on to spend seven years in the NFL. He last played with the Bengals in 2010 and retired with 132 tackles, 23.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 30 tackles for loss, 16 passes defended, and 2 defensive touchdowns.
11. Khalil Mack – 5.0 sacks vs. Broncos (Dec. 13, 2015)
Oakland Raiders’ defensive end Khalil Mack had 5.0 sacks against Denver Broncos’ quarterback Brock Osweiler in a 15-12 win on December 13, 2015. Mack, who was a 24-year-old in his second season in the NFL, finished the 2015 season with 77 tackles, 15.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 23 tackles for loss.
Mack was the No. 5 overall pick of the Raiders in 2014 and is currently playing in his 10th season in the NFL. He currently plays for the Chargers and has 536 tackles, 120 tackles for loss, 90.5 sacks, 27 forced fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, 26 passes defended, and 2 defensive TDs in his career.
10. Haason Reddick – 5.0 sacks vs. Giants (Dec. 13, 2020)
Arizona Cardinals’ linebacker Haason Reddick had 5.0 sacks against New York Giants’ quarterbacks Daniel Jones and Colt McCoy in a 26-7 win on December 13, 2020. Reddick, who was a 26-year-old playing in his fourth year in the NFL, finished the 2020 season with 12.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles.
Reddick was the No. 13 overall pick by the Cardinals in 2017 and is currently playing in his seventh year in the NFL and second season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 375 tackles, 57 tackles for loss, 48.0 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, and 18 passes defended. He was a Pro Bowler last year.
9. Chandler Jones – 5.0 sacks vs. Titans (Sept. 12, 2021)
Arizona Cardinals’ defensive end Chandler Jones had 5.0 sacks against Tennessee Titans’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill in a 38-13 win on September 12, 2001. Jones, who was a 31-year-old playing in his 10th year in the league, finished the 2021 season with 10.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, and 12 tackles for loss.
Jones was the No. 21 overall pick by the Patriots in 2012 and has spent the past 11 seasons in the NFL – he last played for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022. He has 511 tackles, 112.0 sacks, 121 tackles for loss, 34 forced fumbles, 13 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, 30 passes defended, and 2 defensive TDs.
8. William Gay – 5.5 sacks vs. Buccaneers (Sept. 4, 1983)
Detroit Lions’ defensive end William Gay had 5.5 sacks against Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterbacks Jerry Golsteyn and Jack Thompson in an 11-0 win on September 4, 1983. Gay, who was a 28-year-old playing in his sixth year in the NFL, finished the 1983 season with 13.5 sacks and 1 fumble recovery.
Gay was a second-round draft pick of the Broncos in 1978 and went on to spend 11 seasons in the NFL. He last played with the Vikings in 1988 and retired with 60.0 career sacks, 2 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries, and 1 defensive TD. He had at least 10.0 sacks in 1983 (13.5 sacks) and 1984 (10.0 sacks).
7. Aldon Smith – 5.5 sacks vs. Bears (Nov. 19, 2012)
San Francisco 49ers’ defensive end Aldon Smith had 5.5 sacks against Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jason Campbell in a 32-7 win on November 19, 2012. Smith, who was a 23-year-old playing in his second year in the NFL, finished the 2012 season with 66 tackles, 19.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles.
Smith was the No. 7 overall pick of the 49ers in 2011 and had 33.5 sacks through the first two years of his career. Off-the-field issues limited his play in 2013 and beyond and he last played for the Cowboys in 2020. In 75 games played, he has 52.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 1 interception, and 1 defensive TD.
6. Fred Dean – 6.0 sacks vs. Saints (Nov. 13, 1983)
San Francisco 49ers’ defensive end Fred Dean had 6.0 sacks against New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Dave Wilson in a 27-0 shutout on November 13, 1983. Dean, who was a 31-year-old playing in his ninth year in the league, finished the 1983 season with a career-high 17.5 sacks and a Pro Bowl appearance.
Dean was a second-round draft pick of the Chargers in 1975 and went on to spend 11 seasons in the NFL. He last played with the 49ers in 1985 and retired with 92.0 career sacks, 1 interception, 13 fumble recoveries, and 1 TD. He was a 4-time Pro Bowler, 2-time Super Bowl Champion, and Hall of Famer.
5. Derrick Thomas – 6.0 sacks vs. Raiders (Sept. 6, 1998)
Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive end Derrick Thomas had 6.0 sacks against Oakland Raiders’ quarterback Jeff George in a 28-8 blowout on September 6, 1998. Thomas, who was a 31-year-old playing in his 10th year in the league, finished the 1998 season with 42 tackles, 12.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 TD.
Thomas was the No. 4 overall pick by the Chiefs in 1989 and went on to spend 11 seasons in the NFL. He last played in 1999 and retired with 641 tackles, 126.5 sacks, 41 forced fumbles, 4 defensive TDs, and 19 fumble recoveries. He was a 9-time Pro Bowler who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
4. Osi Umenyiora – 6.0 sacks vs. Eagles (Sept. 30, 2007)
New York Giants’ defensive end Osi Umenyiora had 6.0 sacks against Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb in a 16-3 win on September 30, 2007. Umenyiora, who was a 26-year-old playing in his fifth year in the NFL, finished the 2007 season with 52 tackles, 13.0 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles.
Umenyiora was a second-round draft pick of the Giants in 2003 and went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL. He last played for the Falcons in 2014 and retired with 450 tackles, 85.0 sacks, 78 tackles for loss, 35 forced fumbles, 14 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, and 5 touchdowns. He was a 2-time Pro Bowler.
3. Adrian Clayborn – 6.0 sacks vs. Cowboys (Nov. 12, 2017)
Atlanta Falcons’ defensive end Adrian Clayborn had 6.0 sacks against Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott in a 27-7 win on November 12, 2017. Clayborn, who was a 29-year-old playing in his seventh year in the NFL, finished the 2017 season with 9.5 sacks, 6 TFLs, and 2 forced fumbles.
Clayborn was the No. 20 overall pick by the Buccaneers in 2011 and went on to spend 10 years in the league. He last played for the Browns in 2020 and retired with 208 tackles, 40.0 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 55 tackles for loss, and 2 defensive TDs. He won a Super Bowl with the Patriots.
2. Khalil Mack – 6.0 sacks vs. Raiders (Oct. 1, 2023)
Los Angeles Chargers’ linebacker Khalil Mack had 6.0 sacks against Las Vegas Raiders’ quarterback Aidan O’Connell in a 24-17 win on Oct. 1, 2023. Mack, who is a 32-year-old playing in his 10th year in the NFL, has 19 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 5 tackles for loss, and 2 passes defended this year.
Mack was the No. 4 overall pick by the Raiders in 2014 and is currently playing in his second season with the Chargers. In 138 career games played, he has 536 tackles, 90.5 sacks, 120 tackles for loss, 27 forced fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, 26 passes defended, and 2 defensive touchdowns.
1. Derrick Thomas – 7.0 sacks vs. Seahawks (Nov. 11, 1990)
Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive end Derrick Thomas had an NFL record 7.0 sacks vs. Seattle Seahawks’ QB Dave Krieg in a 16-17 loss on November 11, 1990. Thomas, who was a 23-year-old playing in his second year in the NFL, finished the 1990 season with an NFL-high 20.0 sacks and 6 forced fumbles.
Thomas was coming off a rookie year that saw him finish with 10.0 sacks – good enough to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. His 20.0 sacks in 1990 were a career-high, but he finished with at least 10.0 sacks in 7 of his 11 years in the NFL – including 58.0 sacks through the first four years of his Hall of Fame career.
Which NFL Players Have the Most Sacks in a Single Season?
Considering all the players above had at least 5.0 sacks in a single game, it’s crazy to think that only one of those players finished with at least 20.0 sacks in a single season – and that was Derrick Thomas. His 20.0 sacks in 1990 were impressive, but it ranks just 12th all-time for most sacks in a single season.
So, who has the most sacks in a single season? If we’re talking since 1982, Michael Strahan and T.J. Watt share that crown with 22.5 sacks in 2001 and 2021, respectively. If we’re talking since 1960, the crown would belong to Al Baker – who had an unofficial 23.0 sacks with the Lions in the 1978 season.
Jared Allen (2011), Mark Gastineau (1985), and Justin Houston (2014) are the only other three players to have at least 22.0 sacks in a season since 1982 – Deacon Jones had 22.0 sacks in 1964 and 1968. Will we see anyone top those marks this season? It’s possible, but that doesn’t mean it’ll come easy.
At The Buzzer, or ATB is the place for those who love sports, life, family, community, and so much more. We are far from the run-of-the-mill 24/7 sports news websites. We not only bring you what’s happening in the world of sports in terms of trades and breaking news, but we also bring you the news that goes on behind the scenes, like big life moments, and so much more. So take a minute and read one of our articles, we promise you won't regret it.