For fans of the defensive side of the ball, there are few things as exciting on a Sunday afternoon as watching the NFL's preeminent pass-rushers get after the quarterback, whether it's with a bull rush up the gut, a blitz from the outside or, as is sometimes the case with Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison, an illegal blow to the head.
Let's take a look at the National Football League's top five sack artists in 2011, players who paint Picassos of pain in the nightmares of signal-callers all across the league.
The son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long is finally living up to his lofty draft slot in his fourth season in the National Football League, and his 12 sacks so far this season are already easily a career high.
Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens has been on an absolute tear of late, racking up seven sacks over his past three games, and the nine-year veteran's 13 sacks in 2011 are the most he's had in a season during his illustrious career.
Few linebackers in the National Football League inspire more fear in opposing quarterbacks than DeMarcus Ware, who has an eye-popping 75.5 sacks over the past five seasons and 15 so far in 2011, the third-highest total of his seven-year career.
Some folks wondered if 31-year-old Jason Babin would be able to back up his breakout 2010 season after signing a big free-agent deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, but after logging three more sacks in Sunday's win over the Miami Dolphins, Babin has not only matched last season's production, he's exceeded it with a career-high 15 sacks so far this season.
When he's not angering an entire city with his inflammatory comments about the city of Detroit, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen has been terrorizing opposing quarterbacks all season, and his three sacks versus the Lions Sunday bumps the eight-year veteran to a league-leading 17.5 on the year.