Updated: Roethlisberger and Ward Having Historical Seasons

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

AP Photo/Don Wright

AP Photo/Don Wright

I added a little more information about Hines Ward’s rankings that I thought was interesting.

A little over a week ago, I wrote a post showing how high Hines Ward ranks among NFL WRs in playoff yardage. So far this year, he and Ben Roethlisberger are having historic seasons in terms of passing and receiving yardage. As of the time of this writing, both are leading the league in respective passing and receiving yardage. I wrote in the previous post on Hines that he was on pace to have over 1400 receiving yards. After his game on Sunday against the Browns, he is now on pace to have nearly 1600 receiving yard this season, which would be a career high and a Pittsburgh Steelers record (currently held byYancey Thigpen with 1398 yards in a season). Ben is on pace to have over 5000 passing yards this season, which also would be a Steelers record (currently held by Terry Bradshaw with 3724 yards in a season). With two Steelers on such a historic pace, for this franchise, at least, I wanted to see how they compared with other players’ performances after the first 6 games of the season.

First, I’ll take a look at the Hines’s and Ben’s rankings against former Steelers players. Then, I’ll address their rankings against all players in NFL history (or since 1960, actually). All numbers in this post are taken from the Player Game Finder at Pro-Football-Reference.com. Since I’ve written so recently about Hines, and he’s performing so much above what many people expected at this point in his career, let’s take a look at his numbers first. The table below shows a list of Steelers players with 550 or more receiving yards through the first 6 games of a season.

Rk Player Age Year W L T Rec Yds Y/R TD
1 Buddy Dial 24 1961 1 5 0 29 621 21.41 7
2 Hines Ward 33 2009 4 2 0 41 599 14.61 2
3 Buddy Dial 26 1963 3 2 1 29 589 20.31 4
4 John Stallworth* 32 1984 3 3 0 32 578 18.06 1
5 Buddy Dial 23 1960 2 3 1 23 576 25.04 6

In Steelers’ history, Hines’s first six games this season have been the second most prolific of any player in history, behind only Buddy Dial in 1961. Buddy holds 3 of the top five positions on this list, with John Stallworth being the only other. In NFL history, Hines’s numbers this year rank 60th after the first 6 games of a season. You can click this link to see all of the WRs with 550 or more receiving yards after 6 games. By the end of this season, Hines Ward should be in or near the top 20 in NFL history for every receiving category.

Updated Portion: I was just thinking that I’d like to see where Hines ranks among WRs who were his age (or just over 30). Here is a Table showing the WRs aged 33 and above with 550 or more receiving yards in the first 6 games of their season.

Rk Player Age Year W L T Rec Yds Y/R TD Tm
1 Henry Ellard 33 1994 1 5 0 31 630 20.32 4 WAS
2 J.T. Smith 33 1989 2 4 0 47 603 12.83 5 CRD
3 Hines Ward 33 2009 4 2 0 41 599 14.61 2 PIT
4 Jerry Rice 33 1996 4 2 0 43 578 13.44 4 SFO
5 Don Maynard* 33 1968 4 2 0 24 571 23.79 4 NYJ
6 Jerry Rice 39 2002 4 2 0 40 559 13.98 3 RAI

Pretty impressive. Hines is the highest on the list for a team with a winning record after 6 games. Among any WRs aged 30 and above, Hines is 14th in receiving yards. For that full list, click here.

Next, let’s take a look at Ben’s numbers. The first table shows where his season ranks after 6 games in Steelers history.

Rk Player Age Yr Tm W L Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A
1 Ben Roethlisberger 27 09 PIT 4 2 150 207 72.5% 1887 10 6 104.5 9.12 8.78
2 Terry Bradshaw* 32 80 PIT 4 2 88 166 53.0% 1491 13 8 89.7 8.98 8.38
3 Terry Bradshaw* 33 81 PIT 4 2 103 188 54.8% 1488 8 5 83.8 7.91 7.57
4 Tommy Maddox 32 03 PIT 2 4 131 211 62.1% 1486 5 8 75.3 7.04 5.81

Well, it’s the best start to a season, statistically, of any quarterback in Steelers history. He’s the only Steeler QB to ever throw for over 1500 yards in the first 6 games, and he has nearly 1900 so far. He has a much higher completion percentage than Bradshaw or Maddox and the top passer rating by a significant margin. His yards per attempt are also tops, though not by quite as big of a margin. Of this list, only Bradshaw has a season with more TDs after 6 games and few INTs (different seasons, though).

How does this start rank compared to the rest of the league over the years?

Rk Player Age Yr Tm W L Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A
1 Kurt Warner 29 00 RAM 6 0 143 205 69.8% 2260 17 8 117.5 11.02 10.93
2 Drew Bledsoe 22 94 NWE 3 3 161 284 56.7% 2072 13 10 80.3 7.3 6.63
3 Rich Gannon 36 02 RAI 4 2 179 259 69.1% 2048 14 6 101 7.91 7.95
4 Steve Young* 36 98 SFO 5 1 152 246 61.8% 2022 17 3 105.8 8.22 9.05
5 Drew Bledsoe 30 02 BUF 3 3 167 251 66.5% 2016 14 5 101.3 8.03 8.25
6 Drew Brees 29 08 NOR 3 3 159 224 71.0% 1993 12 6 105 8.9 8.76
7 Joe Montana* 26 82 SFO 2 4 157 242 64.9% 1983 14 7 97.5 8.19 8.05
8 Daunte Culpepper 27 04 MIN 5 1 159 217 73.3% 1949 19 3 124 8.98 10.11
9 Joe Montana* 34 90 SFO 6 0 151 229 65.9% 1949 15 7 101.6 8.51 8.45
10 Warren Moon* 33 90 OTI 3 3 150 251 59.8% 1904 16 9 89.8 7.59 7.25
11 Ben Roethlisberger 27 09 PIT 4 2 150 207 72.5% 1887 10 6 104.5 9.12 8.78
12 Peyton Manning 24 00 CLT 4 2 145 227 63.9% 1882 12 7 94.6 8.29 7.96
13 Donovan McNabb 29 06 PHI 4 2 122 208 58.7% 1849 13 2 104.8 8.89 9.71
14 Dan Fouts* 32 83 SDG 3 3 125 204 61.3% 1848 13 10 91.7 9.06 8.13
15 Dan Fouts* 31 82 SDG 4 2 143 222 64.4% 1847 10 6 94.2 8.32 8
16 Dan Fouts* 30 81 SDG 4 2 135 219 61.6% 1840 14 7 96.5 8.4 8.24
17 Jim Kelly* 31 91 BUF 5 1 143 206 69.4% 1833 14 5 109.5 8.9 9.17
18 Dan Fouts* 33 84 SDG 4 2 142 226 62.8% 1831 8 6 88.9 8.1 7.62
19 Drew Bledsoe 27 99 NWE 4 2 137 227 60.4% 1824 9 4 91.7 8.04 8.04
20 Warren Moon* 34 91 OTI 5 1 143 233 61.4% 1823 10 6 89.4 7.82 7.52
21 Tom Brady 28 05 NWE 3 3 143 228 62.7% 1821 8 4 92 7.99 7.9
22 Matt Schaub 28 09 HTX 3 3 143 219 65.3% 1810 14 5 102.7 8.26 8.52

Pretty good. Ben has the 11th highest passing yardage total after 6 games since 1960. His TD total is a little below the average for the players on this list, but his INTs total is about the average. His completion percentage is second only to Daunte Culpepper in 2004.

So far this year, Big Ben and Hines Ward’s production has been nothing short of amazing. When you consider the Steelers’ tradition of being a smashmouth running team, for them to be putting up numbers like this is historic. However, the one area where they obviously need to improve is in scoring TDs and protecting the ball. So far this year, that has proven to be the difference between being 4-2 and 5-1 or 6-0. It certainly hasn’t been just Ben and Hines that have turned it over, but I know we all remember the two pick-6′s and Hines’s fumble down near the goal in the Titans game. Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall showed that they can turn it over too, this week against the Browns. Those turnovers have kept the Steelers’ offense from being elite so far this season. But, once they gain just a little more cohesiveness, Steelers fans should be in for a lot of points being scored as the season goes on. It should be exciting!

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