Putting a dent in quarterbacks

Putting a dent in quarterbacks

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During Richard Dent's 15-year career in the National Football League, the 6'5," 265-pound defensive end, was a sack machine that harassed opposing quarterbacks nearly every time they dropped back to attempt a pass. While the quarterback sack has been the measure of success for defensive linemen for quite some time, it did not actually become an official NFL statistic until 1982, one year before Dent entered the NFL as the Chicago Bears' eight round pick in 1983. Almost immediately after joining the Bears, he set his sights on taking full advantage of the newly minted statistic.

Dent played in all 16 contests as a rookie and filled in as a starter for the injured Dan Hampton in three of them. As a solid replacement, Dent showed a great deal of promise and ended the season with a total of three sacks. He registered the first sack of his career on Nov. 27, 1983 against the San Francisco 49ers early in the second quarter with the game tied at 3-3. The 49ers had just entered Chicago territory on a fake punt which gained 16 yards on fourth-and-nine and were on the threshold of field goal range. Three plays later, on third-and-one from the Chicago 32, Dent rushed the end and took down quarterback Joe Montana for a loss of nine yards. His play forced the Niners to punt the ball. The Bears scored a touchdown on their ensuing possession and took the lead a seven point lead into halftime. Chicago's defense didn't allow a second half score and the Bears won 13-3. Dent was awarded his first game ball. It was a sign of more to come from the relatively unknown first year player.

Traveling to Montana
Dent had many victims during his career but the signal-callers he sacked the most were Joe Montana and Steve DeBerg. He dropped them for losses eight times.
Dent became a full-time starter early in his second season. He instantly proved his worth as the Bears were rewarded with spectacular play by Dent. He led the NFC and set a team record with a career-high 17.5 sacks in 1984. Six times during that season Dent recorded multiple sacks in a game, helping Chicago win the NFC Central Division which marked the franchise's first title of any kind since 1963. For his effort, Dent earned the first of four Pro Bowl selections as well as All-Pro and All-NFC honors.

For an encore, the Bears' 1985 season proved to be even better as they cruised to a 15-1 regular season record. Richard put together another phenomenal year as he led the entire league with 17 sacks, recorded his first two career interceptions and the lone "pick six" of his career. The season was capped in remarkable fashion as the Bears blitzed through the playoffs. They shut out the New York Giants 21-0 in the NFC Divisional round as well as the Los Angeles Rams 24-0 in the NFC Championship game. Dent set the tone for Chicago's defense in those games and was credited with a combined total of nine tackles and 4.5 sacks. It all came together for Dent and the Bears in Super Bowl XX with his MVP performance against the New England Patriots. Dent finished with 1.5 sacks, three tackles, one pass defensed and two forced fumbles as the Bears dominated the Patriots 46-10.

Dent continued his consistently stellar play as he added six more double-digit sack seasons over the next eight years (1986-1993). During that span he only missed double-digit totals in 1989 (9) and 1992 (8.5). In all, the Bears' defensive end registered 137.5 sacks against 67 different QBs including six Hall of Famers during his 15-year career. At the time of his retirement Dent's career sack total ranked third all-time in NFL history and casted his place in bronze among the legends in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Richard Dent's sacks: game-by-game>>>

Richard Dent's quarterback sack list>>>

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