One notch that seemed likely out of his reach, at least for this season, for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was the chance to overtake the moving target in front of him on the all-time passing yardage list. But now that he is no longer moving, it is quite doable, and, arguably, likely to be achieved.
Roethlisberger currently stands eighth all-time in passing yardage with 49,762 entering Monday’s game against the Bengals, with five games remaining in his 14th season. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, has 50,625, in large part because he has not missed a start since before he was a starter as a rookie in 2004.
Needing fewer than 900 yards, Roethlisberger would only have to average fewer than 200 passing yards in each of the final five games—or 225 yards over the next four games, if the season finale proves to be irrelevant—to pass him.
That is assuming that Manning remains a stationary target for the remainder of the season, although that appears to be the case. The Giants, in their infinite wisdom, want to get a good look at former draft bust Geno Smith, and their rookie, third-round pick Davis Webb, over the course of the next five games following a dismal 2-9 start.
One thing to note when comparing the two quarterbacks is that, while they were drafted at the same time, and Roethlisberger actually started slightly earlier, because of his durability, Manning has actually played somewhat significantly more.
Manning has played in 212 regular season games and started 210, while Roethlisberger has played in 196 and started 194. So Manning has started 16 more games than has Roethlisberger, or a full season—or more than eight percent more.
Chances seem to be equally good that, regardless of where Manning stands, Roethlisberger should become just the seventh player in NFL history to record 50,000 passing yards on Monday. If it doesn’t happen against the Bengals—needing fewer than 240 passing yards—it should happen quite early a week later against the Ravens.
Outside of Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer, there is nobody active who is particularly close to reaching the 50,000-yard mark that has not already done so. Matt Ryan has a bit over 40,000, while Aaron Rodgers has a bit over 38,000, so they both have two or three more years, at least, before they are likely to hit that number.
Rivers, however, is the closest active player at nearly 49,000 already. He needs about 1200 passing yards in order to do so, which is achievable this season if he can average about 240 passing yards per game over the course of the rest of the season.
That would make it three quarterbacks in one season to have all hit the same plateau—and all from the same remarkable draft class, which would truly be something special. Meanwhile, Drew Brees needs fewer than 900 yards to join Peyton Manning and Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks to throw for a mindboggling 70,000.