The Pittsburgh Steelers may not be having the season that they were looking for, but one thing cannot be denied, and that is that they are having the most prolific offensive campaign in their history. That is borne out by both team and individual statistics.
There is Antonio Brown’s record 15 touchdown receptions, as well as the 53 total touchdowns the team has scored. Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster are the first pair to catch 100 passes in a season in team history. Ben Roethlisberger’s 33 touchdown passes are a new franchise record, himself already the previous record holder.
And the 15-year veteran can add another notch to his belt with even a pedestrian day today against the Cincinnati Bengals. Roethlisberger is on pace to join the exclusive 5000-yard club, just 158 yards shy of hitting the mark.
Considering that he has thrown for over 200 yards in every single game this season—he even threw for 282 yards against the Oakland Raiders despite missing most of the second half—it would seem improbable that he could fall short of that mark.
Though he is sitting at 4842 passing yards right now, which does lead the league heading into the season finale, it is actually not the most he has thrown in his career. He did through for 4952 yards in 2014, a year in which he tied with Drew Brees for a share of the league lead in that statistic.
To date, there are only nine 5000-yard seasons in NFL history, and Brees has five of those. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Dan Marino, and Matthew Stafford are the other four who are currently members of that small fraternity.
Roethlisberger can become the sixth quarterback to throw for 5000 yards in a season with the 10th instance, though he may well not be the only one. Second-year Patrick Mahomes also needs just 184 passing yards today to reach 5000. If both reach the mark today, it would be the third season in which multiple quarterbacks have done so in the same year.
While it had become commonplace briefly, nobody threw for 5000 yards last season, and in fact Brees’ 2016 season has been the only 5000-yard campaign since 2013. Six of the nine 5000-yard seasons occurred between 2011 and 2013. In 2011, the number of 5000-yard seasons jumped from just two all-time to five.
In terms of Steelers history, Roethlisberger is the only quarterback to have ever thrown for 4000 yards. Including this season, he has done so six times, including each of the past two years, but he fell short in 2015 and 2016. He also previously reached 4000 yards in 2009, 2011, and 2013-14.