Over the course of the first three games of the 2015 season, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has managed to continue to put up phenomenal numbers, catching at least nine passes in each game and topping 100 yards as well, mixed in with a pair of touchdown passes and a successful two-point conversion.
In the season opener in New England, Brown secured nine passes to go along with 133 yards and a last-second touchdown in a losing effort against the Patriots. For an encore, he followed it up last week with another nine receptions, topping out at 195 receiving yards, just a yard shy of his personal best, adding another touchdown and the aforementioned two-point conversion.
Yesterday, Brown secured nine passes by halftime, finishing with 11 in total for 108 yards, though the Steelers as a team failed to get into the end zone through the air.
Through three games, the All-Pro has accumulated 29 receptions for 436 yards, averaging a very healthy 15 yards per reception, with two touchdowns. He has caught at least five passes for 50 yards dating back to the start of the 2013 season, and he also has intact an extended streak of seven-reception, 70-yard games that is approaching a full schedule’s worth.
This remarkable consistency is directly attributable to his tireless work ethic and remarkable athletic abilities. But it’s also a testament to the peerless rapport that he has built over the years with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which last season produced one of the great seasons a wide receiver has ever seen in the history of the league.
It is worth noting that Roethlisberger has not missed a single game during the length of Brown’s five-for-fifty streak, but that is one streak that is about to be broken on Thursday after the Pro Bowl quarterback sustained a sprained MCL and a bone bruise after taking a low hit to the knee on a sack against the Rams yesterday.
Replacing him was Michael Vick, who was signed in the middle of the preseason as the emergency option to serve as Roethlisberger’s backup when Bruce Gradkowski was lost for the season. Vick played 15 non-penalty snaps in all against the Rams, throwing six passes, but did not manage to find Brown once.
The former Pro Bowler certainly looked rusty, and one wonders if this derailment in the offensive machine will see the end of Brown’s streaks, which have already far outpaced anything that anybody else has ever done.
While I am fully aware of the meaninglessness of the record within the broader scheme of things, in that it has no bearing on wins or losses, it has a very real correlational effect on the team’s success, because it will mean that their best player is likely not contributing enough to play winning football.
The Steelers have a short week to prepare for the Ravens on Thursday and Vick certainly looked like he could stand to take every rep possible between now and then. Let’s hope that Brown is right there with him making sure they get in sync as they attempt to keep this thing going.
And by that I mean a winning record.