Ravens OLB Justin Houston's half-sack downgrade cost him $500,000

Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Justin Houston was ever-so-close to earning a $500,000 incentive in the final game of the season. He tasted it. He felt it. He even celebrated it. Because he thought he did it.

Unfortunately, Houston was only half right.

Houston needed just one sack on Sunday to reach a $500,000 incentive in his contract. He came into the game against Cincinnati Bengals with nine, and facing quarterback Joe Burrow, one of the more sack-able quarterbacks in the NFL, meant he had a decent chance of getting to that all-important 10th sack.

It seemed in the fourth quarter that Houston finally got it done. With 11:29 left, he was able to get on one side of Burrow, clamp on, and take him down. He celebrated with a somersault, since he believed he was $500,000 richer.

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Unfortunately for Houston's bank account, he wasn't given credit for the entire sack. His fellow OLB Odafe Oweh was on the other side of Burrow, weighing the QB down while being tackled himself, and the official scorer decided both Houston and Oweh would split credit for the sack. Instead of hitting 10 sacks and getting $500k, Houston finishes with 9.5 sacks and that cash goes untouched.

The Bengals won 27-16.

It's not all bad news for Houston, though. The $500K for 10 sacks was the final of three escalators he had in his contract. He's already earned $500K for hitting five sacks, and another $500K for hitting 7.5 sacks.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Justin Houston (50) celebrates a sacks of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) in the second half of an NFL football game in Cincinnati, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Justin Houston thought he hit a $500,000 incentive in his contract for a 10th sack of the season. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)