Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown recorded seven receptions for 118 yards against the Cleveland Browns yesterday.
It was his third 100-yard receiving game of the season in six games, and he’s just three yards behind Jordy Nelson for the most receiving yards in the league with 629, averaging more than 100 yards per game.
More to the point, his performance yesterday afternoon helped him extend his NFL-record streak of consecutive games with at least five receptions and 50 receiving yards to 22, dating back to the season opener in 2013.
In addition to that, second-year running back Le’Veon Bell recorded his sixth straight all-purpose 100-yard game to begin the season, extending his own franchise record.
Moreover, he surpassed the Steelers’ franchise-best in total yardage through six games previously set by Barry Foster.
Bell remains second in the league in all-purpose yards this season with 793, though DeMarco Murray has him beat by 147 yards.
It all seems rather hollow coming in a 21-point loss, doesn’t it?
Of course, there’s no shortage of people who couldn’t care less about individual statistics as it is, since statistics alone don’t produce victories.
And the fact of the matter is that neither of the 100+ yards from Brown or Bell ended up getting the Steelers in the end zone.
It wasn’t long ago that Heath Miller’s career-high 10-reception game was overshadowed by a defeat, and the veteran tight end took take no joy in it.
Statistics are fun to reflect on when they’re accompanied by victories. They’re a point of order for historical purposes.
But they mean very little—indeed, next to nothing—when they’re achieved in defeat.
After Brown reached the 20-game mark in his streak to break the all-time record, I wrote about the statistics that he accumulated in that time-span, including nearly 2000 yards and 13 touchdowns on about 140 receptions.
What I didn’t mention was the fact that the Steelers had gone just 10-10 during that 20-game span. ‘Significant’ indeed.
Let’s not forget, of course, that Brown’s streak was propped up artificially a week ago when his quarterback got him a fifth reception with the Steelers in position to run out the clock without further risk. I’m sure many of you will never forget that.
No doubt players, some more than others, do look at their statistics, and take pride in their individual efforts. We do get the sense that Brown can be one of those players, even if he doesn’t (always) say it out loud.
But you can bet he’d trade away that record, or any other individual record, in a heartbeat in exchange for a division championship.