Age is just a number, but if you want to put up some significant numbers in the NFL — or any other professional sports league, for that matter — you have to hang around until you’re relatively old.
Given that there is a seven-year difference between Matt Hasselbeck of the Tennessee Titans and Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers, it seems odd to think they are part of the same generation.
Once players turn 30 (Roethlisberger got there during the offseason) in the NFL, though, they’re all senior citizens. As they prepare for their matchup Thursday at LP Field (7:20 p.m., NFL Network), Hasselbeck and Roethlisberger have the numbers to prove it.
Currently there are just six active NFL quarterbacks with more than 2,000 completions, more than 27,000 passing yards and 160 or more passing touchdowns. Roethlisberger and Hasselbeck are two of them. The comparison:
• Hasselbeck: 2,940 completions, 33,586 yards and 197 touchdowns
• Roethlisberger: 2,193 completions, 27,690 yards and 173 touchdowns
The others in that group are Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Eli Manning.
Five of the six have at least one Super Bowl victory to their credit. The only one who does not, of course, is Hasselbeck. His one chance came following the 2004 season when he and the Seattle Seahawks lost to Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
“That will always stick with you,” Hasselbeck said. “I’m sure anybody that’s involved in sports, whether as a coach or a player, you think back to big games whether it be at the high school, pro or college level. They always stick with you.”
A look at other notable numbers connected to Thursday’s contest:
1 – team in the NFL that has yet to produce a play of 40 yards or more this season. It’s the Steelers. Their longest gain was a 37-yard touchdown pass from Roethisberger to wide receiver Mike Wallace in Week 2 against the Jets. Their longest run was 17 yards, by Rashard Mendenhall, who returned Sunday from reconstructive knee surgery.
2 – teams in the NFL that have yet to score a rushing touchdown this season. Oddly, they are coach Jeff Fisher’s former team — the Titans — and his current one — the St. Louis Rams. Tennessee has gone six straight games since its last rushing touchdown.
4 – times in the entire 2011 season Tennessee gave up 14 points or more in a single quarter. The first team to do it was Pittsburgh in Week 5 (14 in the second quarter). Thus far in 2012 there have been six quarters in which opponents scored 14 or more, topped by the 25 Detroit rolled up in the fourth. In a potential sign of progress, Minnesota last week was the first Titans’ opponent this season that did not score 14 or more in at least one quarter.
7 – of the last eight games Tennessee’s quarterbacks have completed 60 percent or more of their passes in a game. That stretch includes the final eight games of last season. Prior to that, Hasselbeck and/or Jake Locker managed 60 percent or better five times in 13 games.
8 – of the Titans’ last 10 fumbles have been recovered by the opponents. That includes each of the last three last season and five of seven thus far in 2012. Four of those eight led to touchdowns for the other team, two resulted in field goals against and twice Tennessee’s defense forced punts. Pittsburgh has recovered four of the five fumbles it has forced this season.
58 – road wins (in 98 games) by the Steelers since the start of the 2000 season. That is fourth in the NFL during that span, one fewer than third-place Indianapolis. However, they re just 2-4 at LP Field in that stretch, with a 19-11 victory in their last visit (Sept. 19, 2010).
356 – career receptions by Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller, which puts him fourth on the franchise’s all-time list, two behind third-place Louis Lipps. Given that opposing tight ends have caught 41 passes against the Titans (at least six each game), third place seems well within his reach. As a side note, three of the top five tight ends, in terms of receptions this season, have faced Tennessee.