Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell played in his 55th game on Sunday. He also reached 7000 total yards from scrimmage in the game. The only other person to have ever reached the mark as fast was the great, Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson.
Which means that Bell just tied Dickerson’s record as the fastest player to reach 7000 career yards from scrimmage. By the end of his 55th game, Dickerson had 7095 yards from scrimmage, a record that he still holds. Bell finished Sunday’s game with 7029 total yards from scrimmage.
Most Scrimmage Yards:
First 55 Games NFL History
— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) October 31, 2017
The closest player to Dickerson and Bell was Edgerrin James, who totaled 6969 career yards from scrimmage in his first 55 games. I’m just going to assume that he ended up reaching 7000 yards in his 56th game, having needed only 31 more yards.
Just so we are clear on this, 7000 yards is a lot. And 55 games is not a lot to get that many. In order to total 7000 yards from scrimmage in 55 games, one has to average over 127 yards from scrimmage per game, which is an exceptional pace to maintain over what is the equivalent of nearly three and a half full seasons.
Oh, and no other player in Steelers history has even come anywhere close to matching Bell’s yardage output. According to the team’s Twitter account, the fastest player to 7000 previously in team history was running back Jerome Bettis. He accomplished it in his 75th game with the team. That is 26.7 percent longer.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 31, 2017
In case you were wondering, if you wanted to start Bettis’ clock from the beginning of his career, it actually took him even longer to accrue his first 7000 yards in total, not just with the Steelers, doing so in his 79th game.
The reason, of course, that Bell has been able to churn out so much yardage, which can without appropriate perspective seem to far outdistance historical greats such as Bettis and Franco Harris, is because of what he also brings to the table as a pass-catcher.
Very few accomplished running backs also have the hands and feet coordination, the route-running ability, and the run after the catch skills to stay in line with Bell, who early in his career is showing to be one of the best receiving threats at the position that we have seen.
Consider this: he once had 159 receiving yards in one game. He has had at least 80 receiving yards in a game five times, and at least 50 receiving yards in 20 separate games. In only 21 of 55 career games has he totaled fewer than 25 receiving yards.
Meanwhile, he has 17 100-yard rushing games to date, with two over 200 yards, and two others that totaled at least 175. By my count, he has totaled at least 125 yards from scrimmage in nearly half of his games, 27 out of 55, in the regular season.