Milestones always feel a lot more anticlimactic when they come in a loss. That was certainly the case yesterday for Antonio Brown, who overall had a rather unspectacular day in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 24-17 defeat at the hands of the Denver Broncos.
While the All-Pro would finish with nine receptions on the day, tied for the highest number of catches he has had in a game this season, they only produced 67 total yards, and he also failed to get into the end zone for the first time in nine games. Still, his fifth catch of the day, albeit an unspectacular one, was nonetheless historic.
What was so great about it? Individually, nothing. He was tackled after a one-yard gain on a bubble screen early in the third quarter on third and nine. Not exactly the makings of a hallmark moment. But it was his 67th reception of the season.
And that means it was the 800th catch of his career. Playing in his 126th career game, he became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 800 receptions. That was five fewer games than it took Marvin Harrison to reach 800 as the previous record holder. Add in Torry Holt and you have the only three players ever to record 800 receptions in their first nine seasons.
With his nine-catch evening, Brown is back on-pace to record 100 receptions this season for the sixth straight year, currently projected to reach 103 catches. He had 101 catches a year ago, and that was in just 13 and a half games. In his last two full 16-game seasons, he has averaged 132.5 receptions.
Sitting at just 874 receiving yards on the season, however, he is on pace to have his lowest yardage output since his first season in the starting lineup in 2012 when he had just 787 yards in 13 games, missing three due to an injury.
Still, while he came up short of the end zone, he is still averaging a touchdown reception per game, sitting at 11 on the year, and is on-pace to break his own franchise record of 13 receiving touchdowns in a single season. His final numbers currently project out to 103 receptions for 1271 yards and 16 touchdowns.
That is certainly nothing to sneeze at, which just makes it amazing to consider how good Brown has been over the past five years that it still ‘feels’ as though he is having just an average year. In Steelers history, 1271 yards would rank as the sixth-highest receiving yardage output in a single season by any player other than Brown, who already owns the top four yardage marks.