Over course of the last two weeks, Pittsburgh Steelers second-year wide receiver Martavis Bryant has posted new career-highs in terms of receptions in a single game. He topped his previous high of six against the Bengals last week when he tallied seven receptions. Yesterday evening, he accumulated his first double-digit reception game, finishing with 10.
However, those comparably big reception totals have not corresponded with big production. In fact, the 6’4” speedster is actually in a bit of a slump that he has never been in before in his young career, though admittedly one that only extends to 19 games thus far.
Yet it is notable that, for the first time over the course of the past two seasons, Bryant has been held without an explosive play in consecutive games. He had not gone more than one game in his first 17 without posting at least one explosive play.
Although over 35 percent of his receptions on the season have come in the last two games, none of the 17 produced a play of 20 yards or more. His longest reception over this span was an 18-yard gain against the Bengals a week ago. He had only one other reception of 10 or more yards in that game.
Bryant finished last night’s game with five receptions of at least 10 yards, but his longest reception was only 15 yards, though he had two of that distance. His 17 receptions compiled only 136 yards, an average of exactly eight yards per reception.
That is nearly half of what he is currently averaging per reception this year at 15.8 yards, but prior to these past two games, he was averaging 20.1 yards per reception. He averaged 21.1 yards per reception on 26 receptions during his rookie season to lead all eligible players.
Over the course of his first two seasons, Bryant has now accumulated 74 receptions, of which 18 have produced at least 20 yards or more. That is an explosive play percentage of 24.3, but prior to these past two games, during which he was held without any, he averaged an explosive play on 31.6 percent of his receptions.
In his 19 games played, he has posted a game with at least one explosive play 12 times. He has done so in five of nine games play during the 2015 season, and he posted an explosive play in seven of 10 games played during his rookie season a year ago. In one of the three games in which he did not, his longest reception, a touchdown, was 19 yards.
Also of note is the fact that Bryant was held without a touchdown during this two-game period without an explosive play. He had two separate instances of two-game stretches without a touchdown last year, but this was the first such instance in 2015.
There is not a strong correlation between explosive plays and touchdowns, however. In the seven games in which he has not posted an explosive play, he has scored a touchdown in three of them, with four touchdowns overall. Conversely, he has three games with an explosive play and no touchdown, scoring in nine of the 12 games in which he has had an explosive play.