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A deep dive into Julius Peppers' sack numbers

It doesn’t require a statistical breakdown to quantify what a disruptive defensive force Julius Peppers was throughout his NFL career.

Yet one statistic will stand synonymous with his career.

The sack.

Peppers finished his 17-year career with 159.5 sacks to his credit, the fourth most since that stat became official in 1982.

Here’s a breakdown of that very big number in ways both factual and fun.

  • Peppers reached double digits in sacks 10 times in 17 seasons and had at least seven sacks in all but two seasons. He played in 266 of a possible 272 games in his career - the sixth most games played by a defensive player in NFL history.
  • Crazy as it might sound, among players to wear a Panthers uniform, Peppers only ranks third in sacks. Reggie White in second place on the all-time list and Kevin Greene in third place played parts of their Hall of Fame careers in Carolina. The Panthers faced all-time leader Bruce Smith of the Bills in 1995, in the second game in franchise history. Smith didn’t record a sack.
  • Peppers recorded at least one sack against 30 of the NFL’s 32 franchises. The exceptions were the Bengals (three games against) and the Colts. Peppers faced the Colts four times; he also faced the Raiders four times and recorded 9.5 sacks against them.
Julius Peppers sacks Eli Manning
  • Peppers didn’t sack Peyton Manning in their three meetings (two with Colts, one with Broncos), but he sacked brother Eli twice. At least one and likely two Mannings will be in the Hall of Fame someday along with Peppers, who sacked two quarterbacks already in the Hall in Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. Favre and Warner are among seven MVPs that Peppers sacked, along with the late Steve McNair, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton.
  • Playing for the Panthers and also two NFC North teams in the Bears and Packers, Peppers faced the Buccaneers, Saints, Falcons, Lions and Vikings most often – between 20 and 23 career games against each. He “only” had seven sacks against New Orleans (four against Drew Brees) compared to 19.5 against Tampa Bay – his most against any team. Against the Buccaneers he sacked three different Joshes (McCown, Freeman, Johnson) and three different Johnsons (Josh, Brad, Rob). But only one Josh Johnson.
Julius Peppers versus Tampa Bay
  • Peppers only sacked Matt Ryan three times, but he managed to sack him when wearing a Panthers, a Packers and a Bears uniform. Mike Vick is the only other quarterback Peppers sacked with all three of his teams. He got Vick seven total times, only behind the eight sacks he recorded against Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. Peppers had 16 sacks against the Lions, second most against any team, including his first career sack – of Mike McMahon in Week 2 of his rookie season in 2002.
  • Those quarterbacks were among the 78 that Peppers sacked – in regular season play. Postseason stats don’t count toward career totals, but Peppers did record 5.5 playoff sacks. One came in an infamous game, when as a member of the Packers in 2014 he sacked Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo during the Dez Bryant catch-or-no-catch game.
  • Peppers sacked Favre in 2007 - Favre's final season with the Packers – then Rodgers in 2008 in Rodgers' first season as the Packers' starter. He got Favre with the Vikings in 2009, then he joined forces with Rodgers in 2010, spending four seasons in Green Bay and then three in Chicago before returning to Carolina to close out his career.
Julius Peppers, Cam Newton talk
  • Peppers faced Newton four times – as a Bear in 2011 and ‘12 and as a Packer in 2014 and ’15. He recorded 1.5 sacks in both the ’12 and ’14 games, including one of his 41 career strip-sacks. Peppers blocked a field goal in the 2011 game, and in the 2015 he famously tossed the ball aside after a Newton touchdown out of the quarterback’s reach to slow his “Sunday giveaway.”
  • As noted earlier, Peppers sacked Eli Manning but not brother Peyton. He sacked Derek Carr but not David Carr, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft when Peppers was picked second (they were Panthers teammates in 2007). Peppers sacked another eventual teammate – Josh McCown – but not his brother Luke.
  • Peppers did sack both Carson and Jesse Palmer. They're not related, but still.

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