It’s much more difficult to talk stats when it comes on the back of a rough loss, but it would be a disservice not to take note of some of the feats that were accomplished by the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 35-32 loss to the New Orleans Saints. For the moment, I am speaking specifically about wide receiver Antonio Brown and his strong game.
The individual stat line itself, of course, is impressive, adding eight more receptions, another 91 yards, and two more touchdowns to his season totals. Even more noteworthy is that he now leads all wide receivers in those three categories.
The eight receptions extended Brown’s lead in that category, bumping him up to 96 for the season, which is eight more than the next best player, which happens to be Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos, who has 88.
What’s more, thanks to his slightly ‘off’ game, Thomas is now three yards behind Brown in total receiving yards. Brown now leads the league with 1258 yards, averaging 104.8 yards per game, while Thomas has 1255, averaging 104.6 yards per game.
With his two touchdown performance, Brown is now one of just six players in the league with double-digit touchdown receptions, and one of only two with 11 or more. Broncos tight end Julius Thomas leads the league with 12 touchdowns, but Brown’s 11 touchdowns is the most among wide receivers.
We should put some of those numbers in context. Brown had last season what was certainly one of the best seasons a Steelers wide receiver ever put together. Some might argue it was the best.
His 110 receptions game two shy of tying the franchise record, while his 1499 receiving yards broke the team record by more than 100. While his eight receiving touchdowns were only the 20th-most by a Steelers wide receiver in a season, it was his career-high by three touchdowns.
He now bested his career-high by three touchdowns for the second consecutive season. The Steelers team record for receiving touchdowns in a single season is only 12, and it’s been accomplished three times, most recently in 2002.
Brown’s pace, only three quarters through the season, has him on pace to blow past those records, even his own. He is on pace for 128 receptions, 1677 yards, and 14-15 touchdowns.
That’s not just a great season for a Steelers wide receiver, it would be one of the great seasons by a receiver in league history.
Brown has recorded a pair of touchdown receptions in four different games this season. He has caught five receptions for at least 50 yards in every game since the start of the 2013 season, and has at least 70 yards in every game of this season. Those numbers are remarkable, even if it’s more difficult to appreciate today.