According to a report yesterday, the Pittsburgh Steelers intend to rest some of their key starters in the regular season finale against the Browns. In doing so, it would render it a virtual impossibility for the team to achieve the history of which I spoke a day ago: owning the league leaders in passing yards, receiving yards, and rushing yards.
With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and running back Le’Veon Bell all reportedly to be on the shelf, only Brown would have a chance. He leads the league in receiving yards by over 150, and the next-closest, DeAndre Hopkins, won’t play in the finale.
Roethlisberger is second in passing yardage behind Tom Brady, whose Patriots will clinch homefield advantage over the Steelers with a win. Bell is narrowly in third behind Todd Gurley and Kareem Hunt, both of whom are also expected to be idle.
But, frankly, I already did the research in preparation for this article two days ago while writing the other, and I thought it would be interesting information anyway, so I’ve compiled a list of all of the seasons in NFL history, for which there is data, during which a team possessed two of the three yardage leaders.
The last team to do it was, in fact, the Steelers, in 2014, when Brown led the league in receiving yardage and Roethlisberger tied for the lead in passing yardage. It was the 25th time that a team owned two of the three leaders, and you may not be surprised to learn that the vast majority of the time, it is the passing and receiving leaders.
But let’s talk about some of this a bit, as I think it illuminates some bits of NFL history. For example, from 1957 to 1960, the pair of Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry of the Baltimore Colts led their respective categories in passing and receiving yards three times, an incredible run of domination. There is a reason both are in the Hall of Fame.
Another Canton enshrinee, Don Hutson of Green Bay Packers fame, deserves special mention. During his 11-year career, he led the league in receiving yardage seven times. He did so with four different primary quarterbacks, all of which he helped lead the league in passing yardage at least once.
2014 was the only time in NFL history that the Steelers have topped this list in two of the three categories, with the Packers and Colts the most-frequently represented. Barring something drastic, it doesn’t appear likely that the 2017 season will be the 26th time one team owns two of the leaders. All information in researching this article was retrieved from the infinitely resourceful Pro Football Reference.
|Year||Team||Passing Leader||Receiving Leader||Rushing Leader|
|2014||Pittsburgh Steelers||Ben Roethlisberger||Antonio Brown||N/A|
|2009||Houston Texans||Matt Schaub||Andre Johnson||N/A|
|2000||Indianapolis Colts||Peyton Manning||N/A||Edgerrin James|
|1999||Indianapolis Colts||N/A||Marvin Harrison||Edgerrin James|
|1998||Green Bay Packers||Brett Favre||Antonio Freeman||N/A|
|1991||Dallas Cowboys||N/A||Michael Irvin||Emmitt Smith|
|1987||St. Louis Cardinals||Neil Lomax||J.T. Smith||N/A|
|1982||San Diego Chargers||Dan Fouts||Wes Chandler||N/A|
|1980||San Diego Chargers||Dan Fouts||John Jefferson||N/A|
|1976||Baltimore Colts||Bert Jones||Roger Carr||N/A|
|1973||Philadelphia Eagles||Roman Gabriel||Harold Carmichael||N/A|
|1970||San Francisco 49ers||John Brodie||Gene Washington||N/A|
|1965||San Francisco 49ers||John Brodie||Dave Parks||N/A|
|1961||Philadelphia Eagles||Sonny Jurgensen||Tommy McDonald||N/A|
|1960||Baltimore Colts||Johnny Unitas||Raymond Berry||N/A|
|1959||Baltimore Colts||Johnny Unitas||Raymond Berry||N/A|
|1958||Los Angeles Rams||Billy Wade||Del Shofner||N/A|
|1957||Baltimore Colts||Johnny Unitas||Raymond Berry||N/A|
|1956||Green Bay Packers||Tobin Rote||Billy Howton||N/A|
|1954||Los Angeles Rams||Norm Van Brocklin||Bob Boyd||N/A|
|1944||Green Bay Packers||Irv Comp||Don Hutson||N/A|
|1942||Green Bay Packers||Cecil Isbell||Don Hutson||N/A|
|1941||Green Bay Packers||Cecil Isbell||Don Hutson||N/A|
|1937||Chicago Bears||Sammy Baugh||N/A||Cliff Battles|
|1936||Green Bay Packers||Arnie Herber||Don Hutson||N/A|