Justin Houston entered the Kansas City Chiefs season finale with 18 sacks, just two shy of tying Derrick Thomas' franchise record of 20 sacks in a single season. Two sacks in a game is a heck of an accomplishment so no one would have faulted Houston had he set his goal to tie or even break DT's record.
But Houston's goal was bigger than that. The Chiefs linebacker said after the game that he wanted five sacks in the game.
"I always set my goals high, that's what you're supposed to do. If you fall short, you have to continue next week. I know at the beginning of the game, everybody was saying two, I told everybody I want five. If I come out and have a game like that, there's a good chance we're going to win. So that's why I always set my goals high."
There is a significance to five sacks. Houston was at 18 before the game so five sacks would have given him 23 on the season which would have broken Michael Strahan's single season NFL record of 22.5. Houston had only (only?) four sacks in the game, which left him at 22 sacks -- a half-sack short of the NFL record.
What's kind of odd is that Houston did have a shot to break the record on the game's final play but the Chiefs dropped him into coverage. Which ... yeah. Why not let him rush with the record on the line? The Chiefs took a timeout with 35 seconds left in the game for some reason so I was assuming that they were aware that Houston was within reach of the record.
"I was doing what the coaches called," Houston said of dropping into coverage, via quotes from the Chiefs. "There were some plays I was hoping I could let the other guys get there because I had at least two, three guys on me, so they were chipping the whole time. The last couple of plays that coach called were for me to drop. It's a team game, whatever coach tells me to do, I'm doing it."
22 sacks ... I guess that's OK.
What struck me most about watching Houston's postgame press conference is how, after one of the greatest pass rushing seasons of all time, he just wanted to talk about the team. This guy deserves every dollar he gets.