Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finished the 2018 regular season having set a new franchise record, becoming the first player in team history to pass for 5000 yards in a single season. He is also the only player in team history to pass for 4000 yards in a single season, something he has accomplished six times.
Or rather, if you ask him, something that the offense has accomplished, because when asked about leading the league in passing yards this year, Roethlisberger credited the honor to the entire group and to offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner rather than to himself.
On 93.7 The Fan, he said, “yeah, we won a passing title—we, not me. We won the pass title in terms of throwing for the most yards, those kind of things. But that’s everybody. That’s wide receivers, that’s tight ends, that’s running backs, that’s the line. That’s an awesome accomplishment for our group, for coach Randy”.
For the first time in team history, the Steelers also had two players catch 100 or more passes, those this year being Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster finished fifth in yardage with over 1400, while Brown, who did not play in the finale, finished just under 1300 yards.
But there was still plenty of yardage to go around. Five players finished with at least 400 receiving yards, and seven had at least 199 (of course Jaylen Samuels has to finish one yard shy of 200 receiving yards to make the point more difficult to make).
Tight end Vance McDonald finished third on the team with 610 receiving yards, which was easily the most in his career by over 200 yards. His four touchdown receptions also tied a career-high, and his 50 receptions were 20 more than he ever had in any other year.
Then there was James Conner, who despite missing three games still came just three yards shy of reaching 500 receiving yards on 55 receptions. Between himself and Samuels, they combined for about 700 yards and four touchdowns through the air at the running back position.
Not to be forgotten is tight end Jesse James, who played a big role early in the season while McDonald was injured and getting himself up and running. Despite splitting more time than ever, he finished wit ha career-high 423 yards in spite of the fact that he had 12 fewer receptions than he averaged in the previous two years. That’s because he recorded about half a dozen explosive plays, leading the team in yards per catch for those with 10 or more receptions with 14.1. He averaged 8.7 yards per catch in his first three seasons.
But of course it was the work of the offensive line this year that might all of that yardage possible. In what was arguably their best pass-blocking season as a unit, Roethlisberger had plenty of time to make plays, and to extend them, which often led to some of their longest gains. So when he says that the passing title was a team accomplishment, he’s quite right.