It seemed like it was last week, when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit wide receiver Antonio Brown in the back of the end zone on a 13-yard dart for a score in the first half of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ game against the Bengals eight days ago, that history was made. It was, for a brief moment, until a penalty nullified the score.
In a way, it was almost a good thing in hindsight, because it builds up the momentousness even more. Last night, in the waning seconds of the game, Roethlisberger and Brown made Steelers history when they connected on a four-yard touchdown pass that won them the game, and the division, knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs, and set a new franchise record, all in the same instant.
The touchdown was certainly very impressive simply in and of itself, but we can discuss that more in depth later. The crux of the issue here is that that touchdown pass was the 50th in Brown’s career, and it was the 50th that was thrown by Roethlisberger. The two, in hooking up for their 50th touchdown as a group, set the new franchise record for the most touchdowns between a quarterback and a pass catcher, a mark that until last night was held for decades by Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swann.
That touchdown was Brown’s 12th of the season, and with that feat, he became the first wide receiver in team history to catch at least 12 touchdown passes in at least two seasons. His 13 touchdowns in 2014 were already a franchise record, and he now owns two of the five 12-plus-touchdown seasons in team history.
Brown earlier this year drew into a tie with Hines Ward for the most seasons with at least 10 touchdown receptions, with three, but Brown was the first to catch double-digit touchdown passes in three consecutive seasons. He has 35 touchdown receptions over the course of the past three seasons now, which is comfortably the most by anybody in team history in any three-year span.
All of that came on what was in and of itself a spectacular display of individual effort from Brown, who fought off a pair of defenders at the one-yard line to create the opportunity for himself to lunge beyond them and stretch his arm out to break the plane of the goal line with the ball, solidifying the touchdown. and it came with time running out and no way to stop the clock, so it simply had to happen.
It looks as though Brown probably will not be playing much, and perhaps may not even play at all, let alone dress, for the Steelers’ season finale against the Browns now that they have been locked into the third seed in the AFC playoffs, so his final state line on the year may show 106 receptions for 1284 yards and 12 touchdowns. The reception and yardage totals come in behind what he has put together in each of the past three seasons, but a down year for him is an excellent one for just about anybody else.