Everson Griffen started the season with a sack in the Vikings’ first eight games, matching Jared Allen and Jim Marshall’s record for the longest streak in Vikings history and putting himself on the precipice of some NFL history.
That was until a foot injury Griffen suffered at the end of the team’s Oct. 29 win over the Cleveland Browns kept him out of Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins and brought the streak to a close. Or did it?
We’ve heard from plenty of you wondering if Griffen — who seems likely to play Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams — is eligible to continue his streak after missing a game. He’s now tied for the third-longest streak of consecutive games with a sack in NFL history. And the way the NFL Record and Fact Book regards other records suggests Griffen’s streak should remain intact on Sunday.
Simon Fletcher and DeMarcus Ware share the NFL record with a 10-game streaks; both set them over the course of two seasons (1992-93 for Fletcher and 2007-08 for Ware). Kevin Greene, who had a nine-game streak, split his across the 1997 and 1998 seasons for Carolina.
And Bruce Smith’s nine-game streak wasn’t just across two seasons (1986-87) — it was across a strike. Smith recorded sacks across the final six games of the Bills’ 1986 schedule, had sacks in the team’s first two games in 1987 and got another one in Week 6, after the NFL had used replacement players for three games while the regular players were on strike.
Other streaks in NFL annals suggest they don’t stop when a player misses a game. LaDainian Tomlinson scored touchdowns in 12 consecutive games for the San Diego Chargers in 2004, skipped the team’s final regular-season game against the Kansas City Chiefs to get ready for the playoffs, and scored touchdowns in the Chargers’ first six games the next year. He shares the touchdown streak record with Lenny Moore, whose record spans three seasons (1963-65). Dwight Freeney’s sack streak of nine consecutive games started in Week 16 of the 2008 season and continued for the first eight games of the 2009 season — after Freeney sat out the Colts’ season finale in 2008 before the playoffs.
Griffen can match Smith, Greene and Freeney with a sack on Sunday, and tie the NFL mark with another sack on Thanksgiving Day before having a chance to break it against Atlanta on Dec. 2. And if he were to miss another game in that time? History suggests his streak would be safe and sound, even if Griffen sits out.