Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown caught his fifth pass of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday with two minutes left to play, on first and 10 on the Jaguars’ 33-yard line with an eight-point lead.
Incredibly, Ben Roethlisberger threw seven passes to Brown’s way yesterday incomplete. That is incredible, considering Brown and Roethlisberger were connecting on more than 76 percent of their targets through the first four games.
Those seven incompletions nearly match the nine total incomplete passes between the quarterback and wide receiver through the first four games, with two of those being drops.
So it was on the 13th pass attempt from Roethlisberger that Brown finally caught his fifth pass of the day, after having had a 17-yard completion wiped out by a penalty on his left tackle in the third quarter.
Roethlisberger told reporters after the game that he called for the screen pass to Brown in that late stage of the game when the Steelers just wanted to run out the clock on their eight-point lead over the winless Jaguars.
He said that he consulted with the coaches on that call before running the play, with all parties determining that Brown deserved the opportunity to extend his record streak of games with five receptions and 50 yards to 21.
It’s important to stress that the Steelers were at a point in which they did not need to run another play to win the game. They had first down after the two-minute warning, and the Jaguars had no timeouts remaining.
In other words, this was purely a decision to get Brown his fifth reception of the game, and for no other reason, as it served no other purpose.
And I’m completely, entirely fine with that.
To begin with, it was a low-risk, high-percentage play on a short screen that is little more than an extension of a running play.
Aside from that, as previously mentioned, Brown has been a very reliable target throughout his career, and has only fumbled once in his last two seasons, with the offense recovering that fumble.
More importantly, the record may not mean anything in terms of wins or losses, but it’s a galvanizing influence for the offense, and for the team as a whole.
Were it not, the coaches certainly would not have agreed to introduce even the slightest bit of risk in putting the ball in the air with the opportunity to seal the game. If it’s something that not only brings the offense together, but the fans as well, then preserving that record is something that I’m all for with the minimal risk that was involved.
For those wondering, during Brown’s now 21-game streak, he has recorded 144 receptions for 2010 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging 14 yards per reception.