Needing one sack to set the Bears' single-season record Sunday at Soldier Field, Robert Quinn had Mike Glennon and history firmly in his grasp late in the first quarter.
With one of his patented pass rushes, Quinn wrapped both of his arms around the Giants quarterback and was about to wrestle him to the ground. But Glennon alertly flipped the ball a few feet to running back Saquon Barkley, who gained four yards on the play.
"I thought the refs were going to blow the play dead, and they didn't," Quinn said. "[Glennon] made a nice play. You know, that's just football for you; yeah, sometimes it's just football."
Glennon wasn't as fortunate in the fourth quarter, however, when Quinn burst around left tackle Andrew Thomas and sacked the former Bears quarterback, forcing a fumble that the Giants recovered.
It was Quinn's 18th sack of the season, enabling him to eclipse Hall of Famer Richard Dent's franchise record of 17.5 set in 1984.
"I was just trying to get off on the ball as fast as I can, like any pass rusher wants to," Quinn said. "I had that one good jump and I knew I had the corner. The quarterback was still there, the secondary had their man, the guys held up and I was able to make history. Of course, thank you to everyone on defense that was out there with me to allow that to happen."
After Quinn set the record, coach Matt Nagy called a timeout to allow Bears players, coaches and fans to show their appreciation for the accomplishment.
"I was trying to figure out what was going on: 'Why did we stop?'" Quinn said. "For them to do that, I don't know, I guess it just shows a little respect. It's an honor for them to even do that. To break that record, as you can see, I'm at a loss for words. But it's been a while. I'm just doing my job. I'm out there with my brothers and just doing what I can to make the most of our opportunities."
"Using a timeout in that position doesn't hurt your team," Nagy said. "It just pays respect from all of us as coaches and players to him, how much we appreciate [him] … He'd be the last person to tell you that he wants any attention, but he deserves it."
Dent certainly thought so, calling Quinn Saturday afternoon. Quinn said Sunday that Dent mentioned how he set the record while starting only 10 games in 1984.
"We talked for a little bit; just small talk, talking a little football," Quinn said. "He threw that comment out there, and that one kind of stuck with me. But you look up his career and no matter if he started 16 or 10 games, his career holds up on its own. That's why he's in the Hall of Fame."
Quinn's sack Sunday also catapulted him into the NFL lead ahead of Steelers star T.J. Watt (17.5), who plays Monday night against the Browns. In addition, it gave Quinn 100.5 career sacks, allowing him to become the sixth active player to reach triple digits, joining Von Miller, Chandler Jones, Cameron Jordan, J.J. Watt and Justin Houston.
This season, Quinn has reverted to the form he's shown most of his 11-year NFL career, most recently in 2019 when he led the Cowboys with 11.5 sacks. The 6-4, 245-pounder has rebounded from a disappointing 2020 campaign when he was limited to a career-low 2.0 sacks.
But overcoming adversity on the football field is nothing compared to what Quinn has dealt with in his personal life—most notably living with a benign brain tumor since he was a teenager.
"Doing that in football is easy," Quinn said. "And I say that because I have some life stories that are a little tougher to come through. Of course, you all know that overcoming a terrible season is pretty easy compared to being 17, laying in a hospital bed and thinking you might not make it. So, football's football and life's a little more important to me."