Curtis Brown Was ‘Special’ In His Return To Punt Coverage Duty

By Matthew Marczi

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback/gunner Curtis Brown had been off the field since the team’s week six victory over the New York Jets. Head coach Mike Tomlin alluded to the team’s observation that he had not been on his keys as he once was in an explanation as to why he was inactive on game days.

If he gets back to playing the way he did against the Buffalo Bills, he probably shouldn’t be inactive again. With Shamarko Thomas out today, it’s all but assured that he’ll play.

In his first game back, he paced the team with three special teams tackles, and even showed some effort as a jammer on returns.

On this late first quarter punt, the Bills viced Brown on the bottom. The outside jammer just about wrapped his arms around him, but Brown recovered, cutting upfield around the inside jammer and then back in between the two again. Because the punt was shallow and in his lane, the returner was funneled right to him and he made the stop after a short gain.

In the third quarter, the Bills decided to try the vice on Antwon Blake instead. Brown got a free pass upfield, but Blake beat the coverage and not only forced a holding penalty, but also got a hit on the returner before he broke away. Brown crossed the field and stayed disciplined amidst three blockers, awaiting the returner’s maneuvers before he was finally forced to cut back outside again, where Brown was waiting to bring him down after a short gain.

At the end of that Bills drive, Brown was on the vice along with Blake on the far side. Brown has generally been begrudgingly acknowledged as a quality gunner, but his jamming abilities have often been questioned—fairly. He and Blake worked well together on this play, however, and it helped produce a good gain for Antonio Brown.

Brown stayed in front of the gunner while driving him toward the sideline while Blake shadowed him. Across midfield, the gunner tried to split the two, but Blake was there to rebuff him to keep him in the vice. Brown then quickly picked up the block and shielded him away from the returner.

In the fourth quarter, the vice was back on Brown again, but he knew how to beat it. He faked cutting outside first before quickly turning upfield and winning the corner on the inside jammer. He then split the two, and after the returner muffed the punt, he was there to force him out of bounds for a loss of a yard.

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