The top Bengals sack artists from the 1970s finally get the recognition they deserve thanks to unofficial sacks becoming publicly available.
In 1982, 14 years after the Cincinnati Bengals played their first-ever game, the NFL began tracking sacks as an official statistic. Many Hall of Fame pass-rushers registered their quarterback takedowns before that year, but finding those unofficial numbers has been a challenge over the last 40 years.
This week, after years of research, Pro-Football-Reference.com posted unofficial sack numbers going all the way back to 1960. 22 seasons of sack numbers instantly became public, which means it’s time to re-examine some record books.
Officially, former Bengals pass-rushers Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins sit atop the Bengals’ all-time sack list. Thanks to PFR, we can look at what the full leaderboard looks like going back to the early days of Bengals football. Dunlap and Atkins finished their Bengals careers right behind Eddie Edwards.
Edwards is recognized as Cincinnati’s all-time sack leader on Bengals.com, but with 83.5 sacks. On PFR’s list, he has 84.5. Reggie Williams (63.5), Ross Browner (61.5), Mike Reid (49), and Ron Carpenter (45.5) are also represented as members of Cincinnati teams from the 1970s.
That Reid is sixth on the list despite playing just five seasons with the team is quite impressive. This makes it no surprise that he has three of the team’s top 10 sack seasons; six of which came before 1982.
Reid’s run with the Bengals was impressive, but the story here obviously revolves around Coy Bacon. In his first season with Cincinnati, Bacon was a part of 22 sacks. The team website credits him with exactly 22, but PFR has him with 21.5.
Including other unofficial seasons, Bacon’s 1976 year is now eighth all-time. He’d be tied for third if the team website’s 22 is indeed accurate. Michael Strahan’s record setting 22.5-sack season in 2001 is now second behind Al Baker’s 23 unofficial sacks from the 1978 season.
Bacon is also now 22nd all-time in career sacks with 130.5. He’s one of six in the new top 25 who’s not in the Hall of Fame.