Thirty-two passing yards. Five fantasy points.
Those represent the amounts by which Ben Roethlisberger fell short of history. His 522 passing yards came that close to Norm Van Brocklin's single-game record of 554. In NFL history, only Van Brocklin, Warren Moon (527, Week 15 of 1990) and Matt Schaub (527, Week 11 of 2012) threw for more yards in a game than Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger's 44 fantasy points, meanwhile, came that close to Michael Vick's since-1960 standard for a quarterback of 49. Unfortunately, he was started in only 10.1 percent of ESPN leagues, leaving many owners thinking about what could've been. Roethlisberger is only the 16th NFL quarterback to reach the 40-fantasy-point plateau during that time frame, and only six of those 16 managed to exceed Roethlisberger's total on Sunday:
Interestingly, Van Brocklin becomes an 17th if we include games pre-1960: His performance -- the upper-echelon games much more easily verifiable -- was worth an identical-to-Roethlisberger's 44 fantasy points. They did get there different ways, however, as Van Brocklin passed for five scores and two interceptions while rushing for a touchdown, while Roethlisberger did it with six passing touchdowns and no picks.
In fact, it's only the 12th time since 1960 that an NFL quarterback threw at least six more touchdowns than he had interceptions in a game; those 12 have been accomplished by 9 different quarterbacks, led by Peyton Manning's three occurrences (6-0, Week 4 of 2003; 6-0, Week 12 of 2004; 7-1, Week 1 of 2013).
Most remarkable is the team Roethlisberger did it against, the Indianapolis Colts, who entering Week 8 had afforded opposing quarterbacks the second-fewest fantasy points per game (12.6). Roethlisberger's 44 fantasy points, in fact, were 11 more than the Colts had allowed to all quarterbacks in their past four games combined.
A contrast in scoring
Roethlisberger's outburst capped an exciting-for-fantasy Colts-Pittsburgh Steelers matchup, one in which 247 total fantasy points were scored, including the team defense/special teams units. That was by far the most in any of the 14 Week 8 games already in the books -- there's one left to play on Monday night -- with 39 more than were scored in the Chicago Bears-New England Patriots contest.
Those two games, incidentally, now represent the two highest-scoring fantasy affairs of 2014. When was the last time we saw 247 total fantasy points scored in a single game? Week 9 of 2013, when the Steelers were again involved ... in a game that was, like today's Bears-Pats affair, also played in New England. If you owned Tom Brady last season, you might remember that one as the "one day Brady came to play," as he managed a season-best 33 fantasy points, after having scored 5, 13, 7 and 6 the previous four weeks.
When was the last time we saw more total fantasy points scored than that? That'd be Week 5 of 2013, when the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys tangled in a 51-48 affair that saw Tony Romo score 40, Peyton Manning score 36, and 11 other offensive players score in double digits and the two teams combined for 260.
Conversely, Week 8 also featured one of the lowest-scoring games of 2014, as the Seattle Seahawks-Carolina Panthers game had no player -- either individual or the team defense/special teams -- score in excess of 12 fantasy points. That represents the worst "game-leading" score of any contest all year; you'd have to go back to Week 2 of the 2013 season to find a game with a leading score of 12: That was Joe Flacco's fantasy point total in the Cleveland Browns-Baltimore Ravens game that week.
The Seahawks-Panthers game didn't set a new standard for lowest-scoring game overall in 2014, however. Three games have had fewer total fantasy points. Here are the "bottom five" this season:
• Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots, Week 3, 101 FPTS: This was the 16-9 game that featured 538 total yards, six field goals and 10 punts.
• Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, Week 3, 104 FPTS: Wait, what? Packers-Lions was low-scoring? Believe it: Aaron Rodgers scored just 10 fantasy points, Matthew Stafford just three, but at least the Lions' D/ST managed a game-best 17.
• Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings, Week 6. 106 FPTS: In another stifling performance by the Lions' D/ST (20 FPTS), Teddy Bridgewater committed three interceptions while Stafford had 11 fantasy points working without the injured Calvin Johnson.
• Seahawks at Panthers, Week 8, 109 FPTS.
• Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars, Week 5, 110 FPTS: A Roethlisberger stinker by comparison (12 FPTS), but the Steelers' D/ST became yet another of the many to dominate the woeful Jaguars offense, scoring 16 points.
• A season-best six players have reached the 30-point fantasy plateau -- that is, with one more game to play on Monday night -- the most in any single week so far in 2014. Before this, there had been only 10 performances all year worth 30 or more fantasy points, two of them accomplished by Russell Wilson (36 in Week 7, 34 in Week 5). You'd have to go all the way back to Week 17 of the 2011 season to find as many as six 30-point fantasy scorers (exactly six then, too). Four of those six in that week happened in the Detroit Lions-Green Bay Packers game, a 45-41 Packers victory, also known to veteran fantasy owners as the "Matt Flynn Game": Flynn had 39, Stafford had 38, Jordy Nelson 34 and Calvin Johnson 30.
That got us thinking, seeing as the six players who scored 30-plus this week did it in five different games: When was the last time that there was at least one 30-plus fantasy scorer in at least five different games in one week? That'd be Week 1 of the 2004 season, when Shaun Alexander (34), Priest Holmes (33), Curtis Martin (31), Quentin Griffin (31), Daunte Culpepper (31) and Donovan McNabb (30) all did it, with Holmes and Griffin the only ones who did it in the same game.
• Oh, what could've been, had only Sammy Watkins not prematurely celebrated a potential touchdown early on Sunday. Yes, yes, there's the fallacy of the predetermined outcome with which to deal, but just for fun, let's give Watkins that touchdown and the resulting 28-point fantasy score he'd have had with it. Had that happened, he'd have become only the sixth NFL rookie wide receiver -- this means, excluding AFL players -- to score 50 or more fantasy points in a two-game span. The others:
Isaac Curtis, 1973 Bengals (55, Weeks 13-14)
Jerry Butler, 1979 Bills (51 in Weeks 3-4, 54 in Weeks 4-5)
Joey Galloway, 1995 Seahawks (52, Weeks 11-12)
Eddie Kennison, 1996 Rams (52, Weeks 15-16)
Randy Moss, 1998 Vikings (57, Weeks 12-13, 64, Weeks 13-14)
Sadly, Watkins will just have to settle for an alternate, yet still exclusive, club: He's only the seventh NFL rookie wide receiver to manage 20-plus fantasy points in consecutive games since 1960. Here are the previous six:
Bill Brooks, 1986 Colts, Weeks 11-12 (23 and 22)
Horace Copeland, 1993 Buccaneers, Weeks 8-9 (23 ands 22)
Isaac Curtis, 1973 Bengals, Weeks 13-14 (29 and 26)
John Jefferson, 1978 Chargers, Weeks 14-16 (21, 20 and 26)
Hassan Jones, 1986 Vikings, Weeks 3-4 (27 and 22)
Randy Moss, 1998 Vikings, Weeks 12-14 (21, 36 and 28)
• With Geno Smith's starting job now in question for the New York Jets, let's take a look at his miserable, minus-6 fantasy day output in Week 8. It was the worst individual day by a quarterback since John Skelton's minus-8 in Week 14 of 2012 -- that was the Arizona Cardinals' 58-0 drubbing by the Seattle Seahawks that resulted in a 39-point fantasy day for the Seattle D/ST -- and it's the second consecutive game of Smith's "in the red" against the Bills, as he had a minus-4 against them in Week 11 of 2013 as well.
With this game, Smith now has four games with negative fantasy point totals in his brief career. Only one player since 1990 has more: Ryan Leaf, who had five of them in a four-year career from 1998-2001.