While it was an ugly night for All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, it was also a historic one. The Pittsburgh Steelers standout made NFL history on his first of two receptions in the game before he was forced out after suffering a torn calf muscle while attempting to haul in a touchdown.
As I have written about, Brown entered the day with 99 receptions on the season following his 11-reception, 213-yard day against the Ravens, so the next reception that he made, whenever it occurred as long as it was within the following three games, would be record-breaking.
That reception came at 8:17 in the first quarter, when Ben Roethlisberger found his favorite target for a short five-yard pass. It was nothing special in and of itself, but it was also momentous. It made him the first player in NFL history to record 100 receptions in five consecutive seasons.
The record milestone broke a tie with Hall of Fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison, who is the only other player of all time to have recorded at least 100 passes in four consecutive seasons. Earlier in the season, he had already broken Harrison’s record for the most receptions in a five-year span.
From 1999 to 2003, Harrison recorded 563 receptions. Brown passes that mark a few games ago during the early December contest against the Bengals. With his two receptions on the night, he likely finishes his regular season, due to the calf tear, with 101 receptions, giving him 582 in the five-year span.
That betters Harrison’s record by 19, and he also bettered Harrison’s record for the most receiving yards in a five-year span. The Colts receiver gained 7594 yards through the air during the same time span discussed above, but Brown broke that record as well.
Should he not play another down during the regular season, then Brown will end his current five-year run with 7848 receiving yards, with 1533 coming this season, the fourth time in that span that he recorded at least 1499 yards.
Brown was having such a remarkable season in 2017—101 receptions for 1533 yards and nine touchdown receptions—that he was legitimately being discussed as in the running for the league’s highest individual honor, the Most Valuable Player Award.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that he will be earning yet another nod as a first-team All-Pro, even if he misses the last two games, which at this point seems likely. There is little that others can do in two weeks to catch up.
But while he may have made history, and his regular season very well might now be history, the Steelers are very much going to need him for the postseason, which will hopefully be preceded by a bye week. In the meantime, the rest of their wide receivers need to continue to step up as they did against the Patriots.
Brown’s next target is Wes Welker’s record for the most receptions in a six-season span. From 2007 to 2012, he caught 672 passes, so Brown cannot slack off. He would need 91 reception in 2018 to break that record.