Last night after the game, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was the one who was showing his frustration over the mishaps and misfortune surrounding the connection between himself and star wide receiver Antonio Brown. He apologized after the game for getting mad on the sideline after the two were not on the same page on a key late third-down incompletion.
Said Brown when told about the apology, “Ben is a competitor. He loves me. There’s no apology [necessary]. Nobody playing this game is perfect”. He had to ask what Roethlisberger was apologizing for when told before he could even answer.
The two have had a working relationship going on nine years now dating back to Brown’s rookie season in 2010. As a sixth-round draft pick on a team that already included Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antwaan Randle El, and Emmanuel Sanders as the higher draft pick, he had a hard time contributing that year, but still authored a huge play in the postseason.
He would register his first 1000-yard season the following year even though he wasn’t starting, and we all know how the rest of his career has gone on since then. Over the past five years, he has averaged 116 receptions for 1570 yards per game and 10 touchdowns.
His numbers this year have been unremarkable, however. On 42 targets, he has caught 24 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Last night, he caught six passes for 50 yards and one touchdown, which came on a 27-yard bubble screen against single-high coverage.
Brown has shown that he can have a tumultuous personality when the Steelers are losing and he is not getting his opportunities to contribute, which go far beyond last week’s sideline antics. So Roethlisberger has learned how to manage him over the years.
“He always makes me feel good communicating with me”, the wide receiver said about the bond that he has with Roethlisberger and how they remain on the same page. “It’s like when your wife tells you that you look strong getting the groceries. It makes you want to get more groceries”.
One thing that can’t be denied about the perennial All-Pro wide receiver is that he has brought in a lot of groceries in recent years. He has hauled in 750 passes faster than anybody else in NFL history, and also reached 10,000 receiving yards the second-fastest ever.
If he benefits from a little bit of ego-massaging here and there in order to produce those sorts of numbers, then so be it. He is at least content when the team is winning, and they are coming off a win. Still, he is looking forward to when defenses turn more attention to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has over 350 receiving yards through three games.
When asked after the game when he thinks defenses will have to start rolling the coverage more toward him, he responded, “hopefully soon!”, which a smile on his face.