Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown does many, many things well when it comes to the game of football, and is widely regarded as being at the top of his profession. The statistics yearly have supported the claim.
This year alone, partially on the strength of a phenomenal 17-reception, 284-yard performance, the All-Pro unsurprisingly leads the league in receiving yards with 1141, and trails by one for the most receptions with 79.
Additionally, his 16 plays of 20 yards or more ranks second, while his seven plays that have gone at least 40 yards are two more than the next-closest receiver—which happens to be Travis Benjamin, who nabbed his fifth of the year against the Steelers on Sunday.
One area in which he has truly distanced himself from the competition, however, is his exceptional performance on third-down passes.
Brown leads all players with 27 receptions on third down this season, and on those receptions, he has accumulated 504 yards, including one touchdown. That works out to a total of 18.7 yards per reception, which is 4.3 yards greater than his per reception total on all receptions.
Of those 27 receptions, 18 have gone for at least 10 yards; 11 have gone for at least 15 yards; eight have gone for at least 20 yards; and four have gone for at least 40 yards. Two others gained at least 37 yards.
According to the charting, Brown has been targeted on third down 39 times, which is also the most in the league. His 27 receptions on 39 targets works out to a completion rate for his quarterbacks of approximately 70 percent, which is very good.
But it gets to the level of remarkable as well, according to Pro Football Focus, according to whom none of those incomplete passes were drops on catchable balls. The charting seems to bear that out.
Of the 12 incompletions, two were intercepted, while another six were directly defensed by an opposing player. Only four passes are listed simply as incomplete, with three of them on deep passes. The fourth incompletion was thrown by Landry Jones, and if you recall the play, it was an obvious bad pass in the third-year quarterback’s first career appearance.
With no drops on catchable balls, Brown is credited with a catch rate of 100 percent, a statistic that PFF tracks to account for quarterback play with respect to receptions, to avoid penalizing a wide receiver for a poor throw.
It is worth noting, by the way, that half of the incomplete passes were thrown by either Jones or Mike Vick.
Of course, paramount above all other statistics when it comes to third down is, plain and simply, conversion rate. If you don’t gain a first down or score, it would be rare to classify a third-down reception as a successful play unless it at least puts you into field goal range.
On his 27 third-down receptions, Brown recorded 21 first downs or touchdowns. On the other six occasions, the Steelers improved their field position to make a field goal easier five times. If you consider the whole, he had a productive third-down reception on 26 of 27 catches, and on 26 of 39 targets, which works out to a ‘productive’ rate of 66.7 percent.