When Antonio Brown hauled in his second-to-last catch of the day, planting and dragging his feet along the sidelines in double-coverage, it seemed like the catch of the day. Maybe catch of the year. But for Brown, it was simply routine.
And not the most difficult catch he had Sunday night.
It was those comments Brown made about his physics-defying catch that caught my eye. Talking with reporters after the game, Brown said the fade route he caught for a touchdown was the most difficult snag he made.
“I think the tough catch is the [first] touchdown,” Brown said after the game. “You gotta let the ball come all the way across your face. Coach Mann loves to call it thumbs out. See the ball come all the way across your face and catch the ball thumbs out. I think that was one of the hardest catch.”
Brown’s late game heroics? Just a product of practice.
“The other catch on the sideline was a routine catch. Seems really hard but we practice it all the time.”
Here’s a clip of what Brown considered to be the toughest catch, the fade from Ben Roethlisberger at the end of the third quarter. It was a great release, stemming inside initially to get cornerback Kevin King to hold, and then releasing outside and tracking the ball in the whole way.
And a screenshot of the “thumbs out” technique Brown used to finish the play.
Brown obviously is far from the biggest receiver. He’s not always going to be someone who is going to leap over a cornerback on a traditional fade. So the Steelers play to his strengths, his route running and hands, to create space in an area that’s generally really hard to do so.
I know the comments were made Sunday and today is Wednesday but I thought it was a really interesting and insightful comment from AB. What we see as difficult and what he sees can be two totally different plays. Either way, Brown wins with great technique and focus. Something he displayed on both of these receptions.