Whenever I write an article about Antonio Brown, I usually have to first take a step back and make sure that I am not taking him for granted, because players who have the ability to consistently perform on the level that he has for the past several years with the Pittsburgh Steelers is a treat that is rare, to say the least.
It is with that perspective in mind that I present to you the stat line for Brown’s 2016 regular season opening game that features eight receptions on 11 targets for 126 yards and two touchdowns. That is a fairly pedestrian stat line for Brown at this point in his career, which is all the more reason that his current level of performance should be admired all the more.
And the most ridiculous thing about Antonio Brown is that, for him at least, it is actually a reasonable thing to do to take an opening game stat line and project a season-long performance by prorating those numbers over a 16-game season.
In case you were wondering, if Brown duplicates his numbers 15 more times, he will record 128 receptions for 2016 yards and 32 touchdowns. One of them is doable, another been-doneable…the other, well, okay, that might be out of even his realm.
The fact of the matter is that Brown already has two seasons under his belt in which he has caught more than 128 passes, so that is not even impressive by his standards at this point, even though just two seasons ago it would have been the second-most receptions in a second in the history of the game.
While Brown has not even come without 150 yards of 2000 yards for a season, however, he averaged over 125 yards per game last season when Ben Roethlisberger is one the field, and there are many who believe—with Brown probably among them—that he could have eclipsed 2000 receiving yards last season had Roethlisberger remained healthy throughout the year, as his numbers were hurt badly with Mike Vick under center.
Brown dominated his matchup with Bashaud Breeland, catching all eight of his passes with the third-year cornerback in coverage on him, although it must be said that he did not catch either of the passes targeted for him with Josh Norman covering him, one of which he caught but was unable to make a ‘football’ move before the All-Pro stripped it out of his hands, which initially appeared to be a reception and a fumble. Some may even say that it was and that the Steelers got a break.
Five of Brown’s receptions, by the way, converted a third- or fourth-down play, two of which resulted in his two touchdowns for 29 and 26 yards. Five also went for at least 15 yards, while three were explosive plays. There is a reason the Steelers were willing to alter his contract with three years left on it last year, and again with two years remaining just a couple weeks ago.