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Giants' Strahan sets QB sacks mark

Posted: Sunday January 06, 2002 4:19 PM
Updated: Sunday January 06, 2002 6:52 PM
  Michael Strahan Michael Strahan had less than three minutes left in the regular season when he made the record-breaking tackle. AP

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Michael Strahan of the New York Giants broke the NFL record for sacks in a season, and only Brett Favre will ever know if the record-setter was a gift.

Strahan got sack No. 22 1/2 with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter Sunday, falling on Favre after the Green Bay Packers' quarterback rolled out and went down at the feet of the defensive end. The sack broke the 17-year-old record of 22 set by Mark Gastineau in 1984.

The play looked questionable because the Packers were leading 34-25 and Favre didn't have a blocker in front of him on the rollout.

Teammates said Favre called a run in the huddle. The quarterback insisted he changed the play to a naked bootleg to catch the Giants off guard, something he's done five or six times this season.

"No, I didn't," Favre said when asked if he allowed Strahan to sack him. "That was a keep pass. I tried to get the edge but he got through."

Inside the Numbers
Single-season QB sacks leaders
No.  Player  Team  Year 
22 1/2   Michael Strahan   NYG   2001  
22  Mark Gastineau  NYJ  1984 
21  Reggie White  Phi.  1987 
21  Chris Doleman  Min.  1989 
20 1/2  Lawrence Taylor  NYG  1986 

Strahan didn't know what to make of the play.

"I just react to what happens," he said. "He was booting out on the same play earlier and I missed him, as far as containing and keeping him in the pocket.

"This time he went down and I hopped on him. What am I supposed to do? Get up and say, 'Brett! Why didn't you throw it?'"

Strahan put his face in the turf and then ran over to the Giants' bench after being congratulated on the field by both teams.

Favre handed him the ball and several other Giants came over and patted the quarterback on the head.

"That was classy of Brett to do that," veteran Giants offensive tackle Lomas Brown said, referring to what he perceived as Favre's generosity on the play.

Gastineau, who played for the rival Jets when he set the mark, was at the game. While he had mixed emotions about losing the record, he didn't want to be involved in any controversy.

"No sack is a gimme in the NFL," Gastineau said when asked about the gift sack.

The Packers' linemen wouldn't say much, either. Tight end Bubba Franks had the blocking assignment on Strahan on the play.

"That was called as a running play," Franks said. "I don't know if it was a bad snap or what. I was run blocking. I didn't know it was a pass."

What it went down as was a sack, a record-setting one at that.

"It's just a phenomenal feeling," Strahan said after breaking a record that withstood challenges by some of the game's best pass rushers.

In the week leading up to the game, Favre was asked repeatedly about the sack record. He said he thought it was "just a matter of time" before Strahan would break the record in the game.

"I was going to joke with Mike to say: 'On the first play, I'll give you one sack, that way you can relax the rest of the game to let me have a little fun,'" Favre said during the week.

Strahan flushed Favre out of the pocket twice in the opening 17 minutes. Early in the second quarter, Favre threw the ball away when Strahan started closing in. As the crowd booed, the two players seemed to laugh, putting their arms around each other. Favre then patted Strahan on the helmet.

Strahan's big season has been diminished somewhat by the fact the Giants are not going to the playoffs just one year after playing in the Super Bowl.

After failing to get a sack in his first two games, Strahan got 13 1/2 in his next five, including a four-sack effort against Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams.

He broke Taylor's team record last week, getting 3 1/2 against Philadelphia.

"Any time you can break an NFL record it's awesome," Brown said. "He worked hard all year. He deserved it."


Related information
Packers top Giants 34-25 to clinch home wild-card game
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