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Micah Parsons & Dorance Armstrong approaching rare feat for Cowboys defenders

Cowboys top-two pass rushers are nearing an accomplishment we’ve only see a few times in franchise history.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Playoff-San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are leading the NFL in sacks so far in 2022. As a team, their 45 sacks in 11 games is eight more than second-place New England. With the defense as a whole excelling in this area, Micah Parsons and Dorance Armstrong are especially standing out and are closing in on a rare accomplishment in franchise history.

Parsons already has 12 sacks this year and Armstrong isn’t far behind him with eight. With six games still to play, it’s likely that Armstrong will get the two more sacks needed to hit double digits for the first time in his career. That would give the Cowboys their first duo to each hit 10 sacks or more in a season since 2012.

That season it was DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, who had 11.5 and 11 sacks respectively for Dallas. It’s been a decade since a pair of Cowboys pass rushers have been able to accomplish the same, but it’s not that it’s happened all that often in the history of the team.

Remember, sacks weren’t officially counted until 1982. So it’s entirely possible, if not likely, that some of the legendary Cowboys from the Doomsday Defense hit this mark. But unfortunately, we only have the last 40 years to go on with official numbers.

As arguably the greatest pass rusher in team history, DeMarcus Ware, unsurprisingly appears twice on this list. His 14 sacks in 2007 were nearly matched by Greg Ellis with 12.5; a great year for the Cowboys defense with one of its most talented rosters in recent memory.

Believe it or not, that big season from Ware and Ellis was the first time Dallas had a pair of double-digit sack artists in over 20 years! Even the glorious era of Super Bowl dominance in the 90s didn’t yield any. While guys like Charles Haley and Tony Tolbert had big individual seasons, a two-headed monster never emerged.

Dallas Cowboys v Buffalo Bills
Randy White (#54) lived in opposing backfields in the 80s.
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

You actually have to go all the way back to 1985 for the next time multiple defenders hit double-digit sacks. And that year there were three Cowboys who did it; Too Tall Jones, Jim Jeffcoat, and Randy White all had 10.5 sacks or more.

The feat wasn’t so rare back then. The year before, Randy White and Jim Jeffcoat were again in double digits. In 1983 it was “The Manster” and Anthony Dickerson.

This accomplishment isn’t so uncommon with other franchises depending on their defensive play styles and the talent they’ve had at various points. For example, the Cowboys of the 90s likely would’ve had more sacks if not for their ball-dominant offense and how much time Emmitt Smith was chewing off the clock. They played to limit opponents’ possessions, thus limiting opportunities to get to their quarterbacks.

In more recent years, having two pass rushers producing at high volume has more been an issue with personnel. Imagine if Randy Gregory hadn’t had those lost years with suspensions, or if perhaps Dallas had more consistent success finding guys to play with DeMarcus Ware?

Thankfully, the current duo of Micah Parsons and Dorance Armstrong isn’t disappointing anybody. They’re on pace to do what few Cowboys before them have accomplished, and their personal achievement is a key reason why Dallas is 8-3 and going full-steam toward the postseason.

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