Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown joined elite company Sunday with his league leading 11th touchdown grab. Brown’s acrobatic catch in the back of the end zone gives Brown 66 points on the season, joining Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson as the only players this season to outscore their kickers.
Of course, this could have not been possible without the injury to starting kicker Chris Boswell. Boswell was forced to sit this past Sunday and watch his temporary replacement Randy Bullock, who added 10 points of his own. With Boswell plateaued at 62 points, Brown’s lone touchdown was able to move the wide out over Boswell by 4 points.
Though Brown’s lead over Boswell is significantly less than Johnson’s 16-point lead over his team’s placekicker Chandler Catanzaro, there is some historical value surrounding Brown’s feat.
No Steeler has dethroned their kicker as leading scorer in a long while, the closest recently was running back Willie Parker falling short 96-101 to kicker Jeff Reed in 2006. That’s why if Brown can continue to find the end zone at his current pace, he may have the chance to be the first Steelers player to outscore their full-time kicker since Franco Harris did it in 1977 and 1976.
Though former Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall also technically accomplished this feat in 2010, he would not qualify due to Shaun Suisham replacing Reed midseason. The two combined would outscore Mendenhall by 47 points, making it not even close.
Now that is out of the way, let’s go back to Brown’s pursuit of joining Harris. Harris just barely outscored kicker Roy Gerela, with Harris winning 66-61 in 1977 and 84-82 in 1976 with each playing 14 games both times.
Just as close as it was thirty years ago, this season’s scoring leaderboards are also separated by a hair. Brown is averaging 5.5 points a game and Boswell is just slightly ahead at 5.6. With four games to go and already at 66 points, Brown will most likely have to surpass Franco’s total of 84 for any shot at beating Boswell this season.