Common belief says that slow and steady wins the race, that in the race of the tortoise versus the hare, the tortoise always wins. Though common belief does not account for the possibility that the tortoise is not up against just any hare, but against Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Antonio Brown. Over the last five seasons, no wide receiver has gotten off to a faster start than Brown.
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) September 11, 2017
Brown’s 182 yards receiving in Sunday’s opening day victory over the Cleveland Browns was the fourth consecutive year in which Brown has exceeded 100 yards receiving in the season opener. Scaling back a year further shows that no wide receiver has outproduced Brown’s totals on opening day over the last five seasons in a majority of receiving categories.
Brown’s 38 receptions and 628 receiving yards lead the pack, just surpassing Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green’s output. From there, the drop off is drastic. No other receiver has achieved even 500 yards receiving and Brown’s four receiving touchdowns are only second to Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ five.
The list goes on and on for Brown’s sprinter like start. Just like Brown demonstrated Sunday, his sure-fire hands and explosiveness are a major reason why he has been able to dominate the NFL’s opening weekend over the last half decade. No wide receiver (min. 25 receptions) has been able to match Brown’s 16.5 yards per catch, and his 82.6% catch percentage ranks third behind New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (86.1%) and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (83.3%).
The Steelers have started their season off with a victory in three of the last four seasons and it is not hard to see why when a fresh Antonio Brown is suited up. Just like he has done in Washington, New England and Pittsburgh in seasons past, Brown’s fast start played a crucial part in the Steelers’ opening day efforts.
While the slow and steady tortoise may win the race, the Steelers’ slow and steady offense likely would have been unable to scrape out of a victory in Cleveland without their hare.