I can fully imagine a grant reviewer, tenure or hiring committee saying that when reviewing the "impact" of a particular publication of an individual.
Furthermore, one can also say
"the paper was in PRL but it was a full 12 months between submission and publication. Clearly, he was lucky to get in PRL at all..."
But, there is a problem with all this.
These observations apply to Duncan Haldane's 1988 paper Model for a Quantum Hall Effect without Landau Levels: Condensed-Matter Realization of the "Parity Anomaly"
Haldane's paper has been receiving about 100 citations per year for the past few years.
It now has a total of 530 citations in Physical Review journals.
However, from 1988 to 1999 it received only 17 citations.