On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger called out second-year wide receiver Martavis Bryant on his weekly radio show and in essence said his teammate needed to toughen up more and start making plays. On Wednesday, Bryant accepted that challenge from his quarterback when he met with the local media and he delivered on it Saturday night in the Steelers 18-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card game.
While Bryant only had 5 catches for 29 yards against the Bengals, he delivered two big plays of which one was a spectacular touchdown catch that included him pinning the football to the back of his legs while tumbling forward out of the corner of the end zone. That catch, which will go down as one of the greatest in the history of the franchise, put the Steelers ahead 15-0 with 5:08 remaining in the third quarter.
Earlier in the third quarter, Bryant delivered a 44-yard run on an end around to the left that included him weaving back to the right sideline before finally being forced out of bounds at the Bengals 20-yard-line. That drive resulted in a field goal by Steelers kicker Chris Boswell.
Bryant reportedly worked extra after practice at least one day this week with fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown as the two caught balls from the Jugs machine. While Roethlisberger was criticized by many for calling out Bryant publically, it certainly seemed to work as the former fourth-round draft pick appeared to be focused and on his game Saturday night.
The Steelers will need more of that same kind of play out of Bryant moving forward in the playoffs. Next weekend the Steelers will play the Denver Broncos in the AFC Divisional Round and they could be without Roethlisberger, who suffered a right shoulder injury against the Bengals.