Although he very nearly managed to score a touchdown on what proved to be the penultimate offensive play of the game for the Pittsburgh Steelers—sans a snap in victory formation—wide receiver Antonio Brown may have spent more time making noise off the field on the day than on it.
For the game, the All-Pro had just four catches for 34 yards, ranking fifth on the team in receiving yards. He entered the day with demonstrative leads league-wide in terms of receptions and receiving yards with 26 for 354, respectively. Stefon Diggs has now passed him in receiving yards, while Bears running back Tarik Cohen is now just two receptions behind him.
It was one pass, however, early in the second quarter that did not go his way that saw him fuming on the sideline. On third and four during the Steelers’ first possession of the quarter, Ben Roethlisberger was under pressure when he tried to find Le’Veon Bell on a target short of the first down that fell incomplete.
Brown had pulled a double move on the down after showing a crossing route over the middle, peeling back to the left to find himself wide open on his side of the field on a play that could have had the potential to result in a long touchdown.
He was livid that he was not targeted on the play, which would have required Roethlisberger to throw across his body while he was being hit, so much that he took it out on a water cooler on the sideline, fuming all the while.
After the game, he was asked by reporters if that was the most frustrated during a game that he can recall being. He responded, saying that it was a product of his “passion about the game. Any time you work as hard [as you do] and you expect something out of a play and it doesn’t run the way you want it to, you just get a little frustrated”.
While it was not the most optically beneficial moment of the game, his teammates defended and sympathized with his reaction. For his part, Roethlisberger talked about Brown’s passion. Everybody, he said knows “how passionate he is about wanting to help this team, wanting to do everything he can to take us to the next level”.
Roethlisberger said that he thinks Brown’s behavior was “nothing more than a competitor wanting the ball every single play, and you can’t blame him for it”. Ramon Foster also told reporters that his response was “right-minded”, even if it looked bad, because it was just an example of his drive to succeed and to help the team succeed.
The veteran offensive lineman pointed to the fact that they have too many playmakers on the offense for everybody to be featured every game. Yesterday was Bell’s day, putting up over 180 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Brown has two 10-reception, 100-yard games over the course of the first four weeks.