Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger on pace for 5,000-yard season: 'It’s still a pretty big deal'

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Ben Roethlisberger (Getty Images)

Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger is one of a few play callers on track to reach the 5,000 passing-yard mark. 

Only nine quarterbacks in NFL history have reached 5,000 pass yards in a single season, with Saints’ Drew Brees accounting for five such seasons. But, to have multiple quarterbacks on pace to reach the record is a rarity. 

“It’s still a pretty big deal,” Roethlisberger said, via Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I know I’ve never gotten there and a lot of other guys haven’t. It’s still probably a pretty big number, but it seems like there might be a few guys on pace this year.”

There have been multiple Hall of Famers who have never compiled a 5,000-yard season, including Brett Favre, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana and Steve Young. But a number of the league’s young and old talent could reach the milestone in a pass-heavy season. For a quarterback to reach the milestone, he would need to average 312.5 passing yards over 16 games.

At the midway point, a number of players under center have averaged 312.9 yards or more. 

The Falcons’ Matt Ryan is racking up 335.6 yards per game and is followed by the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes (322.3), Roethlisberger (320), the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (317.8) and the Rams’ Jared Goff (312.9).

Roethlisberger attributed the increase in passing yardage to the rules changes that provide more protection for players under center. Multiple quarterbacks reaching 5,000 yards in a season has happened only twice. Brees, New England’s Tom Brady and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford did so in 2011, and then Brees and Peyton Manning accomplished the feat in 2013. 

Since 2013, the only quarterback to get to a 5,000-yard season was Brees in 2016.

“I think that’s one of the big ones,” Roethlisberger said. “Everyone has to keep up with everyone else, right? When you’re going out and scoring points … 30 isn’t even a (big) number anymore. It doesn’t seem like it in a lot of these games.”

The six-time Pro Bowl player came close to joining the illustrious club in 2014 when he passed for a career-high 4,952 yards. This season, Roethlisberger already has accumulated 2,560 yards.