Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown entered the game at 100 receptions on the season, looking to become just the second wide receiver in NFL history to post at least 110 receptions in three consecutive years. He accomplished that and more today in a rousing Steelers victory over the Denver Broncos.
The sixth-year All-Pro had perhaps one of the finest games of his career, finishing with 16 receptions—the second-most he’s ever had—for 189 yards—the fourth-most he’s ever had—and two touchdowns. Each of those numbers is very impressive in and of itself, but the reception total made NFL history.
With his 16th reception of the game—an eight-yard reception to end the game on third and five—Brown reached 116 receptions on the season. That one gave him 355 receptions over the span of the last three years, setting a new NFL record.
The previous record was held by Marvin Harrison, who caught 354 passes with the Indianapolis Colts between the 2000 and 2002 seasons. In his historic 2002 season, caught 143 passes for 1722 yards and 11 touchdowns. 143 is by far the most receptions in a season in NFL history.
The previous year, he caught 109 receptions for 1524 yards and 15 touchdowns. In 2000, his three-year streak began with 102 receptions for 1413 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Given that the Steelers still have two games left to play, Brown actually has two more games to further distances himself from the former great, whose rapport with Peyton Manning is one of the few that can rival what Brown currently has.
It is interesting to note that in 1999, Harrison caught 115 passes as well for 1663 yards and 12 touchdowns. In a four-year span, he totaled 469 receptions, an average of 117 per season. He also totaled 6322 yards in that span, averaging 1581 yards per season.
With the connection that Brown has with Ben Roethlisberger, with both in the primes of their careers, the 27-year-old could hit a similar run of success. He is already at least three quarters of the way there, after all, likely earning his third consecutive All-Pro recognition. With two games left to play, Brown has accumulated 355 receptions for 4783 yards and 30 touchdowns, averaging 118 receptions for 1594 yards and 10 touchdowns.
On the season, he has averaged over eight receptions for 113 yards and .64 touchdowns, so he figures to add about 16 more receptions for another 226 yards and a touchdown, giving him 132 receptions for 1812 yards and 10 touchdowns by the time the regular season draws to a close.
If Brown finishes the season with his prorated numbers, he will have caught 371 passes for 5009 yards and 31 touchdowns. Should he achieve that, he could set the record for the most receptions in a four-season span as well if he accumulates just 99 receptions in 2016. He will also better his yardage output with a 1314-yard season, though he would need a historic 21-touchdown season to match Harrison’s four-year output in that category.
Brown already owns many of the Steelers’ franchise receiving records, and is now working on breaking his own. His 129 receptions last season was the second-most in NFL history, and he is on pace to make it the third-most. He already now owns the top three yardage totals, and is threatening to enter the top-three all-time for a single season.
With 7 catches in 1st half, Antonio Brown tied Marvin Harrison & Wes Welker (346) for 2nd-most catches in any 3-year NFL span. Record: 354.
— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) December 20, 2015