I don’t think there are many quarterback-receiver combinations in the NFL that can even be brought up without being laughed off the stage when speaking of rivals to the relationship shared between Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown in the league today.
The pair have had some incredible, really unparalleled success over the course of the past five years, helping the quarterback go to the Pro Bowl in most of those years, with Brown an All-Pro in each of them, on the first team for the past four.
One of the few connections that I could even reasonably entertain would involve a pass-catcher that was taken in the same draft class as Brown back in 2010. And it is the only pairing that Bucky Brooks believes tops the Steelers’ dynamic duo.
The NFL analyst lists New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski as the greatest ‘pitch-and-catch combo’ in the league right now, and honestly, I don’t know if I could disagree. The two pairings actually have a lot of similarities.
Brady has the same insane sort of level of trust in Gronkowski as Roethlisberger has in Brown because both Gronkowski and Brown make ridiculously difficult catches look routine. Each is at their best when they are able to get their preferred target heavily involved.
On the Patriots’ pairing, Brooks writes, “it’s impossible to prevent TB12 from linking up with No. 87 when the Patriots have the ball. The big-bodied tight end overwhelms smaller defensive backs with his brute strength and power, while blowing past lumbering linebackers on seams down the alley”. He notes that the pairing’s insane 75 touchdowns since 2010 puts them over the edge.
Whether you’re a fan of Gronkowski or not on a personal level—he lost me last season with what he did to Tre’Davious White—there’s no denying that he is the absolute best tight end in the game right now, possibly the best ever, and is one of the best all-around football players in the league as well. But Brown is right there too.
Of his connection with Roethlisberger, Brooks noted that “whenever a receiver surpasses the 100-catch mark in five straight seasons — not to mention, tallying 1,200-plus yards in each — it speaks volumes about the connection between thrower and catcher”.
The incredible consistency has been the hallmark of their relationship. Roethlisberger’s numbers may ebb and flow a bit, but Brown always gets his, which suggests that the others aren’t doing enough to help out the quarterback—or he has missed games.
So what do you think of Brooks putting the Brady-Gronk pair over the Killer Bs? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it absurd? Maybe the question is this: which pair to defensive coordinators dread playing more?