Kovacevic: Anyone still doubt Brown? Hello?
TribLIVE Sports Videos
For all I care, Antonio Brown can throw a party every time he finds his way to a first down. He can point that football forward, then release it a la the classic mic drop. He can dance the salsa, take a Lambeau Leap, try the Ickey Shuffle and, before he gets back to the Steelers' huddle, whip out a Sharpie and sign a deal to make a rap video.
It's all good.
Because he's that good.
Or is that great now?
One look at No. 84's still-growing 2013 ledger, and it's getting easy to call it the latter:
• His 74 catches lead the NFL, and he has had no fewer than five in any game. This despite the Steelers' offense having virtually no other vehicle through that 0-4 start.
• His 952 yards rank fifth in the league, and 298 have come after the catch. This despite the bubble screen.
• He has made 15 catches of 20-plus yards, third-most in the league. This despite only five touchdowns, a powerful sign of how hard he has had to work to get open for Ben Roethlisberger.
• This one's my favorite: He has made those 74 catches on just 105 targets from his quarterback. That's a 70.5 percent rate and best in the league among the top 10 receivers.
Stop and think about that: Every time Roethlisberger throws a ball Brown's way, and those often travel downfield and into double coverage, he has nearly a 3-in-4 chance of catching it.
I would say it's akin to Calvin Johnson or Wes Welker, except that Megatron is at 54.1 percent and even the possession ace Welker is just behind at 70.1. Oh, and you won't see Brown vanish for an entire half, as Megatron did here Sunday.
Small wonder Roethlisberger is running out of words: “I say it every week, but AB's been so good for us, so steady … I'm not sure what else I can say.”
Well, here's something: Brown is on pace — a comfortable one, at that — to break the franchise's most important single-season receiving records: Hines Ward set the mark for catches in 2002 with 112, but Brown is on pace for 118. Yancey Thigpen set the mark for yards in 1997 with 1,398, but Brown is on pace for 1,523.
Never mind the franchise. If Brown tops 1,500 yards, he'd be just the 22nd in NFL history.
So, AB, how's it going?
“You know, I just want to keep it going, continue to better myself week in, week out,” he was telling me the other day on the South Side. “All I think about is trying to change the outcome of football games, helping my team.”
But there has been more, no?
“I just want to be the best,” he said. “That's all I've ever wanted. I'll keep battling.”
That's all Brown has done, really — one challenge at a time — since the Steelers waited until the sixth round in 2010 to draft him out of Central Michigan, 195th overall.
At the time, he was saddled by a too-small tag at 5-feet-10 and all the standard knocks on MAC players. But even after his teammates voted him the Steelers' MVP in 2011 and management wrapped him up with a five-year, $42.5 million contract, the doubts persisted: He'd scored only two touchdowns. He didn't stretch the field. He did a lot of his damage on returns. He wasn't a true No. 1. The money should have gone to Mike Wallace.
This season, too, there were early doubts: Brown had a sideline barking match with Todd Haley, was benched briefly in New England by Mike Tomlin and has taken all kinds of public guff for a few ill-timed celebrations.
All of it now obliterated, of course, overwhelmed by his actual performance.
Anyone still clamoring for Wallace, he of 44 catches and a single TD since riding his one-trick pony to South Beach?
Even this week, there are doubts about Brown with his pending matchup in Cleveland against Joe Haden, the brilliant corner some are calling the new Darrelle Revis.
It's justified. Haden this season has stoned Megatron, Greg Jennings, Torrey Smith and A.J. Green twice. Last week, Haden and Green each caught two Cincinnati passes.
There will be a mutual respect for the receiver and corner this weekend. At least I think. Haden referred to Brown on a conference call as “smaller than the guys I usually cover but faster,” which sounded like a compliment. And Brown … well, let's just say he seems tired of the topic.
“He's a great talent,” Brown said of Haden. “But we'll see you out there on Sunday, OK?”
With that, Brown whirled around toward his locker stall, evidently finishing our chat with a flair.
OK by me.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man dies in jump from Route 130 overpass onto passing tractor-trailer in Hempfield
- Kittanning shelter creating calm haven for interviewing young victims
- Starkey: Penguins’ season impressive so far
- Hornqvist’s net-front presence with Penguins could be valuable asset
- Poll shows Clinton slipping in trustworthiness among voters
- Pirates’ search for division title rests on starting rotation’s health
- Duquesne man charged with sex assault of minor
- Penguins a love affair for Evancho sisters
- Big names highlight Three Rivers Arts Festival’s 2015 musical lineup
- Pennsylvania religious freedom law does not extend to for-profits
- Arrivals from Paris soon will avoid extra screening at Pittsburgh International