For the first time in NFL history, two players finished tied for the league lead in passing yards.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger each finished the 2014 season with 4,952 passing yards, tied for the top spot in the NFL. Although 4,952 yards dwarfs the yardage totals that led the league for almost all of the 20th century, it actually represents a slight decline from past years: This is the first time since 2010 that no quarterback reached the 5,000-yard mark.
For Roethlisberger, the total is a career high by more than 600 yards, and the first time he has ever led the league in one of the major passing statistical categories. Roethlisberger had never before led the league in yardage and has never led in attempts, completions, touchdowns or completion percentage. (Roethlisberger has led the league in two statistical categories no quarterback wants to lead the league in, interceptions thrown in 2006 and times sacked in 2009.)
For Brees, this is the fifth time he’s led the league in passing yards, and he joins Sonny Jurgensen and Dan Marino as the only players in NFL history to lead the league in passing yards five different times. (No one has ever led the league in passing yards six times.) But this season’s total was actually a step backward: Brees had passed for more than 5,000 yards in each of the previous three seasons.
Passing for 4,952 yards doesn’t seem all that impressive these days, as the changing rules have made 4,000 yards commonplace. In fact, there were 11 quarterbacks with 4,000 passing yards this season. Times have changed. There was one 4,000-yard season in the entire decade of the 1970s.