To the surprise of many, a lot of the NFL’s long-standing records managed to withstand the first 17-game season. Eric Dickerson’s fabled rushing record made it through another fall. Peyton Manning’s records for passing yards and touchdown passes were also unscathed, while Michael Strahan saw Steelers‘ pass rusher T.J Watt match — but not pass — his record for sacks in a season.
While they made it through the 2021 season, Dickerson, Manning and company may not be as lucky in 2022. There are several records that are poised to fall in 2022, the second 17-game regular season in league history. Let’s take a look at which single-season records could fall and the players who could break them.
Most receiving yards
Current record holder: Calvin Johnson (1,964 yards in 2012)
Cooper Kupp was incredibly close to breaking Johnson’s record last season. The reigning Super Bowl MVP finished the 2021 season with 1,947 yards while also leading the NFL with 145 receptions. If he and quarterback Matthew Stafford are able to stay healthy, Kupp may very well become the NFL’s first 2,000-yard receiver this fall.
Current record holder: Michael Thomas (149 in 2019)
Kupp was just four receptions from matching Thomas’ record last season. Along with his quick chemistry with Stafford, Kupp’s remarkable hands were a big reason for last year’s prolific numbers. He caught at least 80% of his targets in all but two games last season.
Current record holder: Michael Strahan (22.5 in 2001)/T.J. Watt (22.5 in 2021)
Watt matched Strahan’s record despite missing two games due to injury. Along with tying the all-time sack record, Watt led the NFL in tackles for loss for a second straight year. He also forced five fumbles en route to winning his first Defensive Player of the Year award. Watt should once again be in position to break the record this season given the added depth the Steelers have at linebacker as well as on the defensive line.
Most rushing yards
Current record holder: Eric Dickerson (2,105 in 1984)
Dickerson’s record may have been broken last year had Derrick Henry not sustained an injury after rumbling for 937 yards in the season’s first eight games. Henry is the frontrunner to break this record in 2021, but don’t sleep on Jonathan Taylor, the Colts‘ third-year back who won the league’s rushing title last fall.
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Current record holder: Tom Brady (485 in 2021)
Brady broke Drew Brees’ five-year-old record last season, and he may break his own record in 2022. He completed at least 20 passes in all but one game last season. Brady completed 41 passes in the Buccaneers‘ regular season loss to the Rams, a team Brady and the Bucs will host on Nov. 6.
Most passing yards
Current record holder: Peyton Manning (5,477 in 2013)
Brady was relatively close to breaking his former rival’s record last season, when he threw for a career-high 5,316 yards. Brady finished the year with more than 300 more passing yards than the league’s second-leading passer, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.
Current record holder: Matthew Stafford (727 in 2012)
Brady came to within eight completions of matching Stafford’s record last season. Brady attempted at least 30 passes in each of Tampa’s 17 regular season games. He attempted a season-high 54 passes (the fourth game during which he threw at least 50 passes) in the Buccaneers’ thrilling divisional round playoff loss to the Rams.
Current record holder: Night Train Lane (14 in 1952)
The closest anyone has come to catching Night Train’s record was former Raiders shutdown cornerback Lester Hayes, who picked off 13 passes in 1980. Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs made a run for it last year with 11 interceptions. New Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson, who picked off eight passes during his final year with the Patriots, should also be considered among the favorites to possibly break Night Train’s long-standing record.
Current record holder: Justin Tucker (66 yards in 2021)
The Ravens‘ All-Pro kicker hit a 66-yarder last year, so there’s no reason to doubt that Tucker would try a 67-yarder if the opportunity presents itself this season. Tucker, a rookie when the Ravens won the 2012 Super Bowl, is coming off arguably his best season to date. He made nearly 95% of his field goals last year, included making each of his six kicks that were at least 50 yards.
Most total touchdowns
Current record holder: LaDainian Tomlinson (31 in 2006)
This record is going to be tough to break, even with the extra game. That being said, there are a few players who are capable of breaking Tomlinson’s record if they stay healthy. That list of players includes Taylor, Kupp, Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, and 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel.