What exactly can you say at this point about Antonio Brown that hasn’t already been said? What left is there for him to show that he hasn’t yet? He makes highlight reel touchdown catches, is deadly in the open field, and his sharp routes leave cornerbacks dizzy.
His 2013 campaign was exceptional, recording 110 receptions for 1499 yards and eight touchdowns en route to his first appearance among the All-Pros. It was hard to imagine that he would better that, but he is well on pace to do so.
Brown has already matched his career-high eight touchdowns from last season in just nine games, and is only a few yards shy of 1000 receiving yards already. His 71 receptions lead the league and put him on pace to break Hines Ward’s single-season franchise record for receptions.
Did I mention that he’s doing all of this while averaging 14 yards per reception, which is even higher than the 13.6 yards that he averaged last year, despite a high percentage of underneath throws?
Brown did not shy away from the limelight last Sunday night in primetime against the division rival Baltimore Ravens, as he put up some of his best numbers of the year with 11 receptions, 144 yards, and his eighth touchdown of the year.
Which is ever so slightly interesting, given how long it actually took Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense to get him involved, though it’s somewhat understandable given that they could barely manage a first down by the end of the first quarter.
And, naturally, that first first down came courtesy of Brown, catching a 13-yard pass in front of the Ravens’ first-round draft pick with the offense backed up on its own five-yard line.
After the Ravens put up a field goal toward the end of the first half to cut the lead at the time to 17-10, Roethlisberger immediately turned to Brown on the first play to get the drive started after a touchback.
Lined up in the slot on the right side, Brown ran a crossing pattern through the middle of the field as the other receivers chased the coverage off the ball with deeper routes. That left Brown on his own in center field, and he beat the safety to the sideline for 11 of his 17 yards on the play.
It was early in the fourth quarter that the game broke open for Brown, however, as he kept himself available for his quarterback on a broken play, caught, shook the cornerback, outran the safety to the middle of the field, and needled his way through two other defenders to complete his 54-yard touchdown, the team’s longest receiving play of the season.
Remember way back when, when Lardarius Webb was among the first to recognize Brown as the Steelers’ best receiver? Webb sure hates being right about that. Brown mauled him on this play, jamming him hard and causing him to spill to the ground, adding 10 yards after the catch as a result.