From Week One to Week Four, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown did manage to catch 29 passes. But that came with just 272 receiving yards attached, averaging just 68 yards per game, which put him on pace for under 1100 yards on the season, easily his lowest over a full season as a starter.
While he still had three touchdowns down that four-game span, it was enough to raise concerns—and the fact that he was drawing a lot of negative attention to himself wasn’t doing the team nor himself any favors.
Most of the issues had been with Ben Roethlisberger throwing him the ball, but that has largely been cleaned up over the past two weeks, and now the pair has been making plays over the past six quarters of football.
The All-Pro caught six passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Atlanta Falcons, most of those catches and both of the scores coming in the second half. Today, against a Cincinnati Bengals defense that has almost always defended him well, he added another five receptions for 105 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
That was the first time that he has put 100-yard games together back to back since games 12 and 13 of the 2017 season, right before he suffered an ankle injury. But he was dominating at that time. Over the four games leading up to his injury, he had 39 catches for 627 yards and six touchdowns.
Now over his past two games, he may ‘only’ have 11 receptions, but he has picked up 206 yards on them with three scores. That is 18.7 yards per reception, a massive improvement over the 9.4 yards per reception that he was averaging over the first four weeks of the year.
Over the first six games of the season, Brown now has 40 receptions for 478 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 12 yards per reception, picking up over 2.5 yards per reception over the past two games, and getting much closer to his career average of 13.4 yards per reception.
And of course he came up with the biggest play of the game at the biggest moment. With 15 seconds remaining from the Bengals’ 31-yard line, Roethlisberger motioned him in beneath Justin Hunter after seeing zero coverage.
Vontaze Burfict came on the blitz to leave the middle of the field open. Roethlisberger got him the ball and he did the rest, streaking past the defense for the go-ahead score and giving the Steelers their first back-to-back win of the season.
That was after he had just one catch on two targets in the first half for nine yards. And after he took a pair of shots to the head while making his second reception of the day, though he only missed a couple of plays.
Brown is picking up steam heading into the bye week, and his efforts, along with James Conner, are now driving an offense that is starting to look potent heading into the second half of the year.