Though today’s game meant nothing in terms of playoff positioning, it meant quite a bit to Robert Mathis as it was his final NFL game.
He announed his retirement on Friday, saying that he would be playing in his last career game this weekend after a tremendous 14-year career with the Colts. So it was only fitting that he went out with a strip-sack and a win.
Early in the fourth quarter of the game today, Mathis came up the middle and got to Blake Bortles, hitting the football out and recovering. It was the 47th strip-sack of his career, extending his own NFL record.
Afterward, Mathis took the ball and gave it to his wife in the stands, the ball commemorating the final strip-sack of his incredible career. There’s no more fitting way for Mathis to leave the league than with that, since it’s the thing he’s most known for and the thing he perfected.
In addition to his 47 strip-sacks, Mathis finishes his career with 123 sacks, which is currently 17th all-time and 0.5 sacks ahead of former teammate Dwight Freeney. Mathis ranks first in Colts history in career sacks, as well as in a number of other categories. Sunday’s game was also Mathis’s 192nd career game with the Colts, tying him for the seventh-most games played with the franchise.
Also fitting: the Colts sent Mathis out with a win. In his 14-year career, Mathis was only a part of one losing team (2011), and he only missed the playoffs three times (two of which were in his final two seasons). That’s incredible, and there were so many great memories and moments throughout that period. So it’s fitting that, in one of the roughest seasons for Mathis individually (he finished with five sacks this year, the lowest since his rookie year) and for his team (the Colts finished 8-8, tied for the second-worst record they’ve had in Mathis’s 14 years), he gets to go out with a win.
One of the highlights of the day was a tribute video that played pre-game before Mathis was introduced and ran out of the tunnel to a huge ovation, and then later on he caused Lucas Oil Stadium to erupt with his strip-sack. Good for Robert Mathis, and though he’d obviously like to go out with a Super Bowl win, the way it wound up working seems fitting too - with a strip-sack and a victory.