Dolphins' Taylor close to sack milestone

Thursday, November 2nd 2006, 5:41 am
By: News On 6

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Jason Taylor's sack list is impressive, starting at the top with two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady.

The New England Patriots' quarterback has been sacked 8 1/2 times by Taylor, most of anyone on the list.

In 10 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Taylor has also sacked John Elway, Peyton Manning and most recently Brett Favre. He has sacked two Hasselbecks (Matt and Tim), two McCowns (Josh and Luke) and teammate Daunte Culpepper (then with Minnesota). He has sacked one Carr (David) and five Jets.

Add it all up, and Taylor takes 99 1/2 sacks into Sunday's game at Chicago. If he sacks Rex Grossman for the first time, Taylor will become the 23rd player to reach the 100 milestone since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

"It's a lot of takedowns,'' he said Wednesday. "If I do get to that, it'll be great to have the individual honor. But this is the consummate team game, and I would trade 99 of them for a chance to play in the big game.''

That would be the Super Bowl, which Miami last reached in 1984. Taylor, a mainstay on the Dolphins' defense since his rookie season in 1997, has yet to reach even an AFC title game and hasn't been on a playoff team since 2001.

The drought will likely continue this year, considering that Miami is 1-6. For Taylor, the frustration of losing dwarfs the significance of 100 sacks, even though he'll join Michael Strahan and Simeon Rice as the only active players to reach the milestone.

"It's great to be among the couple of dozen guys who have done it,'' he said. "But I only have one thing in mind now, getting to the big thing.''

At 32, Taylor's racing the clock to reach a Super Bowl, but he shows no sign of slowing down. He leads the NFL with 83 sacks since 2000 and has six in the past four games.

"He's relentless in trying to get to the quarterback,'' coach Nick Saban said. "Since I've been here, just as many of his sacks probably have come on second moves than just beating a guy with speed up the field. That's what has made him outstanding.''

The 6-foot-6 Taylor was considered small for an NFL end when the Dolphins took him in the third round of the 1997 draft. But he has bulked up to 255 pounds, and Miami's mix of 3-4 and 4-3 defenses gives him plenty of angles from which to attack the quarterback.

"Like most good pass rushers, he gets an excellent jump on the ball,'' Dolphins defensive tackle Vonnie Holliday said. "And for a tall guy, he uses his leverage well and gets under guys and uses his balance. You wouldn't think he's a power rusher, but he uses his speed, then shifts to power and runs a lot of guys over.''

Besides anchoring a defense that has been the Dolphins' strength for the past decade, Taylor has developed into a locker-room leader candid in his criticism of the team but also resilient in his optimism.

He shrugs off Miami's status as a two-touchdown underdog against the unbeaten Bears.

"They're a good team,'' Taylor said. "They're 7-0, and they're playing well. But I'm not going to pump them up any more than anybody else already has.

"They bleed like us; they can be beaten just like we have. It's not going to take a miracle to beat this team.''

But two or three sacks by Taylor would help.