Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has spent the past three seasons making a compelling case for being the best player in the league at hits position—perhaps even overall. He is the only one, or one of only a handful, to accomplish any number of individual accolades. He became the first player ever to record 125 or more receptions in back-to-back seasons just yesterday.
But there is one thing in particular that stands out to me that is not yet on his resume, which must change if the Steelers are to make any waves in the postseason. In his first five seasons, with five postseason games on his resume, he has yet to score a touchdown.
Of course, three of those games came during his rookie season, when he served as the team’s fourth wide receiver. He had just 16 receptions in nine games during the regular season, though he had five receptions for 90 yards during the playoffs, including a key 58-yard reception on third and very long against the Ravens in the divisional round.
That play started opening eyes, and Brown began his ascent to a more prominent role. He had over 1000 receiving yards in his second season as he slowly climbed the depth chart, but in the Steelers’ one playoff game, he was kept out of the end zone on his five receptions for 70 yards.
He entered the starting lineup the following year, but the Steelers missed the playoffs during his first two years in that role, finally returning to the postseason in 2014, where they lost to the Ravens in the Wildcard round.
He had a big game, gaining 117 yards on nine receptions, but it wasn’t enough as Pittsburgh was dropped 30-17. The Steelers scored one touchdown, and it wasn’t Brown who scored. He was originally credited for a score on what ended up a 47-yard reception down to the one. They scored on the next play, however.
For his career, then, in five games, Brown has recorded 19 receptions for 277 yards—but no touchdowns. And given that Brown has been the team’s primary source of scored through the air the past three seasons—leading in receiving touchdowns each time—it seems unlikely that the Steelers can win and Brown’s touchdown drought in the postseason can remain intact.
Pittsburgh’s first opponent will be the Bengals. Over the course of the past two seasons, Brown has scored two receiving touchdowns against the division rivals over a four-game span. His best game against them was in the 2014 season finale that clinched the division, when he had seven receptions for 128 yards and a score.
During the regular season, the Steelers were 5-2 when Brown scored a touchdown, and 5-4 when he did not. In 2014, they went 7-2 in the games in which he scored, and 4-3 when he did not. It is not just individual statistics that would benefit from the drought ending. The Steelers are simply a better team when he is scoring.