Pick-Six: 17th game puts some NFL records within reach

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FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2021, file photo, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) carries the ball for a touchdown during an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Houston. Fresh off becoming just the eighth man to run for at least 2,000 yards, Henry now has a 17th game giving him a chance at Eric Dickerson's league record of 2,105 yards set in 1984. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson, File)

Derrick Henry now has an extra game to help him surpass Eric Dickerson's 37-year-old rushing record.

The quest for the first 2,000-yard receiving season just got a little bit easier for big-play threats like Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins.

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And who knows what Patrick Mahomes can do to the record book now that he has 17 games to rack up yards and touchdowns?

The NFL's move to 17 games in 2021 has made some records that once might have seemed unbreakable a little bit more attainable with an extra game to do it.

Here's a look at some marks that could be surpassed along with a couple that still should be safe:


Dickerson broke O.J. Simpson's single-season rushing record of 2,003 yards when he ran for 2,105 in 1984 for the Rams.

Since that season, six more players have cracked 2,000, but the closest anyone came to Dickerson happened in 2012 when Adrian Peterson fell 8 yards short of matching it.

Henry ran for 2,027 yards last season when he averaged 126.7 per game. Had he gotten that many in a 17th game he would have surpassed Dickerson by nearly 50 yards.


Calvin Johnson set the single-season receiving record with 1,964 yards in 2012 but even with the increase in passing no one has gotten to 2,000.

Julio Jones came closest since Johnson with 1,871 yards. That pace would have been enough to break Johnson's mark with a 17th game but would have left him about 13 yards short of 2,000.

But if teams keep throwing the ball at the current rate, the 2,000-yard barrier could be in reach.

Buffalo's Diggs led the NFL last year with 1,535 yards receiving.


There have been 12 times a quarterback reached 5,000 yards passing in a season, with the recently retired Drew Brees having done it five times himself.

Brees set the record with 5,476 yards in 2011 only to have Peyton Manning break it by a yard two years later.

Three quarterbacks have reached the 5,000-mark the past three years, with Mahomes and Ben Roethlisberger doing it in 2018, Jameis Winston in 2019. All three were on a pace to nearly eclipse Manning's mark with an extra game.

Manning also set the TD mark with 55 in that 2013 season. Mahomes got to 50 in 2018 when he threw for 5,097 yards and could threaten both marks with the 17th game.


Michael Strahan set the sacks record in 2001 — with help from a dive by Brett Favre — when he got 22 1/2 to break Mark Gastineau's mark of 22 set in 1984.

Jared Allen (2011) and Justin Houston (2014) both matched Gastineau's 22 in recent years, with Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt coming close at 20 1/2.

A 17th game could help someone pass Strahan and remove the controversy from the record that was achieved only when Favre just fell to the ground in the closing minutes of the season finale.


The 4,000-yard passing season became common in recent years even with only 16 games as the game opened up and teams passed more than ever. In all, there have been 198 4,000-yard seasons in NFL history, with seven franchises having at least 10 and the Packers and Colts having 16 each.

There is only one team that hasn't cracked that mark: the Chicago Bears. It might be tough for the Bears to end that drought even with 17 games because Andy Dalton begins the season as starter but could lose the job at some point to rookie Justin Fields.

The Bears hope Fields will get there some day and pass the franchise record of 3,838 yards set by Erik Kramer in 1995.


There are a handful of records that will be tough to break with 17 games but perhaps none more than Night Train Lane's mark of 14 interceptions in 1952. No one has even reached 11 in a season since Everson Walls in 1981 as quarterbacks have become much more careful with the ball.

Miami's Xavien Howard last year became the first player since 2007 with 10 in a season but even a 17th game probably won't be enough.


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