Sitting out yet another Divisional Round game for the second time in three seasons was a distinct possibility for Antonio Brown, this time nursing a pretty significant calf injury. Troubled by the memories of the past, however, and recognizing the potential of the present, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver knew he had to do everything in his power to make it work.
And did he ever. The first-team All-Pro authored yet another exceptional postseason performance, catching seven passes for 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was his second multiple-touchdown outing in the postseason of his career, and of his past four postseason outings in total, which is tied for the team record.
Brown missed the final 10 quarters of the regular season for the Steelers, and even with a Wildcard Round bye week was still unable to return to full health, but he was able to get close enough to allow himself to play at something of a depleted capacity.
But a wounded Antonio Brown is still better than almost any other wide receiver in the national football league, as we found out yesterday. He was said to be a game-time decision to ‘give it a go’ for yesterday’s game. He also went off and had a big game coming off of a toe injury earlier this season when the was considered a game-time decision.
“I wasn’t really 100 percent”, he told Joe Rutter and the gathered reporters after the game was lost. “I couldn’t really do what I desire, but it would have haunted me if I wasn’t out there with the guys. I’m grateful I was able to get out there and give them my all. It just wasn’t enough”.
He will, naturally, take as much of the blame as possible, though he is about as far down the list for culpability in the loss as is conceivable. Were it not for his transcendent effort, the Steelers may well have been truly blown out from start to finish, rather than being allowed to hang on just close enough to keep them driving until the bitter end.
Interestingly enough, all four of Brown’s postseason touchdowns in his career have come off of explosive plays, authoring touchdown receptions of 23 and 43 yards on the afternoon. Last season, against the Miami Dolphins, he had two touchdowns of 50 or more yards.
At whatever ‘percentage’ of health he played, Brown was still arguably the best player on the field for either team, though that is nothing new. When you are the greatest wide receiver in the sport, you will probably steal the show and take over the game with relative frequency.
Fortunately, the Steelers have at least four more years of Brown under contract. It would be great to get four more years out of Ben Roethlisberger to throw him the ball as well, though I suppose we should just be satisfied to start with the one that he has intimated he will play.