Many of the most prolific offensive attacks of all time have featured a "big three" of dynamic, talented playmakers at the quarterback, running back, and wide receiver positions. The Cowboys with Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith, and the Rams with Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, and Torry Holt are notable, high-powered offenses that embodied the importance of a big three.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a big-three of their own in Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le'Veon Bell. Each player currently sits at No. 2 in the NFL in their respective yardage statistic; Ben in passing, Brown in receiving, and Bell in rushing. In fact, if each of the three maintains his current level of production, it will be the first time in NFL history that one team has featured players in the top-2 of passing, rushing, and receiving yardage.
Only once has a team featured three players with a top-3 finish in their respective categories, which happened back in 1999 when the Colts' Peyton Manning was the No. 3 passer in the league, with Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James the league leaders in receiving and rushing.
Regardless of their finish, the Steelers' offensive attack this season will rank as one of the most prolific in the history of the NFL. Other than the Colts and Steelers this season, no other trio of players have come close to posting such impressive numbers, points out Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a featured story. This is in part because of the difficulty of orchestrating such a well-balanced attack.
The league's leading rusher this season, Demarco Murray, is the beneficiary of an attack built to run the ball. Tony Romo, Murray's Cowboys teammate, is 15th in the league in passing yards. Likewise, Andrew Luck, the league's passing leader, has one of the most mediocre rushing attacks in the NFL, ranked 18th, with the team's yardage leader, Trent Richardson, only having 475 yards this season. Receiving stats, to an extent, lean heavily on the play of the quarterback, with each of the current top-5 receiving leaders (Julio Jones, Brown, TY Hilton, Demaryius Thomas, and Jordy Nelson) playing with a quarterback in the top-6 in passing yardage (Matt Ryan, Roethlisberger, Luck, Manning, and Aaron Rodgers).
Pittsburgh currently sits as the No. 2 offensive team in the NFL, accounting for 427 yards per game. The balance in both phases of the offense allows the Steelers to break off game-changing plays, such as Martavis Bryant's 94-yard touchdown against the Bengals. Pittsburgh is also afforded the ability to grind out close wins and control the clock, as evidenced by Le'Veon Bell's 33 carries for 204 yards in a 27-24 win against the Tennessee Titans earlier this year, a game in which the Steelers held the ball for nearly 40 minutes.
Ben, Brown, and Bell may all be headed to the Pro Bowl, with Brown and Bell making solid cases to be named to the All-Pro teams. In a record setting, historic season, the best accolade of all could wind up being a trip to the playoffs. The Cowboys won Super Bowls with Aikman, Irvin, and Smith. The Rams won one with Warner, Faulk, and Holt. This season, the Steelers will look to join them.