Follow The Republic:
Robert Mathis played his first 10 seasons as an Indianapolis Colt in the shadow of a surefire future Hall of Famer.
On Sunday, the spotlight was his and his alone.
Mathis, in a 34-28 win against Seattle, became the 30th player in NFL history to achieve the century mark in quarterback sacks. The milestone was broadcast by the public address announcer; and, predictably, the home crowd showered Mathis with cheers.
Mathis refused to get caught up.
THE MATHIS FILE
Name: Robert Mathis
Position: Colts outside linebacker
High school: Atlanta McNair (1999)
College: Alabama A&M (2003)
Drafted: By the Colts in Round 5 of the 2003 NFL Draft
Career totals: 152 games, 454 combined tackles, 101 sacks, 1 interception, 40 forced fumbles, 14 fumble recoveries, 18 pass deflections
He slapped hands with a couple of teammates, who literally reached out to congratulate him, in the Colts’ defensive huddle before the next play, and that was about it.
The man had a football game to win. Blue-collar to the core.
“I don’t have time to do that. We have a goal, and that’s to get to New York in February,” Mathis said, referring to the site of Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2. “Any and everything it takes to get there, that’s what it takes.”
The way the veteran outside linebacker is performing, the Colts just might get there.
Through Indianapolis’ first five games this season, Mathis has been credited with 9.5 sacks, which is well ahead of the previous franchise standard of seven set by former defensive end Ezra Johnson in 1989.
Not surprisingly, Mathis is the NFL’s leader this season in that category, ahead of Kansas City’s Justin Houston (8.5) and Buffalo’s Mario Williams (7.5). Mathis also is bearing down on Dwight Freeney’s franchise record of 107.5 career quarterback sacks.
A defensive end his first nine NFL seasons, Mathis in 2012 was switched to outside linebacker as part of the 3-4 defense being implemented by second-year head coach Chuck Pagano. His 2012 numbers (33 tackles, 8 sacks), while down somewhat from the two seasons when he notched 11.5 sacks (2005 and 2008), nonetheless remained solid.
This season, Mathis has been nearly unstoppable.
He recorded three sacks last week in the Colts’ 37-3 win at Jacksonville and two apiece in the previous two outings against Miami and San Francisco. His two Sunday against the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson ran his career sum to 101.
Mathis, at the very least, is on pace to be named to his sixth Pro Bowl, and by December he could emerge as a leading candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
It can be argued Mathis is due a few streaks of limelight after performing opposite a Canton-bound talent like Freeney for a decade.
Just don’t expect Mathis to go seeking it.
Inside the noisy Indianapolis locker room following Sunday’s triumph, Mathis quietly dressed.
He had taken his game ball and placed it on a wooden shelf in his locker.
A keepsake to be better appreciated years from now when nature has tamed the quick first step and strength Mathis uses to torment opposing offensive linemen and quarterbacks.
One hundred sacks is great, but it’s not what drives him. Mathis has played in two Super Bowls and badly wants a third.
“I can appreciate it and never take it for granted because it is a big milestone,” he said softly. “I appreciate it, and I’m very blessed.”
Mathis ranks 27th all-time in league history in quarterback sacks as Indianapolis prepares for Monday’s game at San Diego.
The possibility of moving up is enticing to him only because his disruptiveness helps the Colts succeed.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.