Former Pittsburgh Steelers great Jerome Bettis may have run for more yards in the NFL than all but five other players in history, but no amount of distance can clear him from the looming threat of current Steelers great, Le’Veon Bell, who has spent the past five years racing to catch up and surpass many of The Bus’ franchise records.
And we saw another one of them go by the wayside on Thursday against the Titans when Bell became the team’s all-time leader in scrimmage yardage during their first five seasons with the team. Bettis, who had actually nearly surpassed Franco Harris’ five-year mark early in his fifth season, has held that record since 2000, but does so no longer.
Churning out 7242 total yards during his first five seasons, Bettis averaged 1448 yards per season with the team during that portion of his career. He only missed two games in that span, meaning that he played in 78, which works out to an average of 92.8 yards per game.
With his 46 rushing yards and 57 receiving yards against the Titans—and he very nearly needed every one of them, ultimately surpassing Bettis on his second-to-last touch of the game, an eight-yard reception—Bell now has 7244 total yards from scrimmage to date, according to Dom Rinelli.
1. Bell 7,244
2. Bettis 7,242
3. Harris 5,947
4. Parker 5,622
5. Brown 5,341 pic.twitter.com/FuHSZGLtMF
— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) November 19, 2017
That will, of course, work out to roughly the exact same yardage per season as Bettis, but one has to consider just how much time the fifth-year running back has missed so far in his career. Including the first three games of his career, five-games’ worth of suspension, and another eight due to a serious knee injury, that is a lot of time on the bench.
To date, Bell has played in 57 games. Producing 7244 yards in that span yields a figure of 127.1 yards per game, which is impressively nearly 35 yards more per game than Bettis managed up to that same point in his Steelers career.
Bettis recorded 1665 rushing attempts over his first five seasons with the team, averaging 333 per season, for 6713 yards, which works out to roughly four yards per carry, with 36 rushing touchdowns. He also had 87 receptions for 529 yards and two more touchdowns.
As for Bell, he currently has 1140 rushing attempts, averaging 228 per season (but 320 per 16 games) for 4931 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per attempt, with 31 rushing touchdowns. He also has 276 receptions (averaging 71 per season) for 2313 yards and five more touchdowns.
Of course, Bell still has six more games to add to his total. And given that he is averaging over 127 yards per game in his career, he could potentially reach 8000 yards before the season is through. It would probably be a while before another Steelers player comes along to break that record.