Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger admonishes Antonio Brown for sideline tantrum
As much as Mike Tomlin enjoys the skill Antonio Brown brings to the football field, he's not as enamored with the All-Pro wide receiver's sideline demeanor.
That was evident Tuesday when the Steelers coach issued some stern advice to Brown for the Gatorade cooler-flipping incident that gained national attention during a 26-9 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
“Be a professional,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin addressed Brown's antics about an hour after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger admonished the star receiver on his weekly 93.7 FM radio segment.
“It's causing a distraction that none of us really need,” Roethlisberger said.
Brown flipped over a Gatorade cooler after he was not targeted by Roethlisberger on a third-down pass play in the second quarter with the Steelers holding a 3-0 lead. After upsetting the cooler, Brown got up and brushed past offensive coordinator Todd Haley. When Haley tried to grab the back of the receiver's jersey, Brown twisted away and swatted at Haley's hand.
“AB is a competitor. We all know and understand that. It aids him. It aids us,” Tomlin said. “But we have to control it. He has to control it. If he does not, it could work against him. It could work against us.”
Tuesday was the second time in 10 months Tomlin had to discuss Brown's actions off the field. In January, Tomlin dealt with the fallout from Brown streaming the postgame locker room talk on Facebook Live following a divisional playoff win in Kansas City.
“It doesn't need to happen. It shouldn't happen,” Tomlin said. “Hopefully it won't, moving forward. Hopefully, he's learned a lesson from that. Hopefully, others have learned a lesson from that. … We've got young people on our team. They need to be taught good things, good lessons, ways to conduct themselves as professionals.”
After the game, Brown said he had “no regrets” about his behavior.
“I'm passionate about the game,” he said. “Anytime you work hard and you expect something out of the play and it goes the other way, you just get a little frustrated.”
Brown ranks second in the NFL with 30 receptions and 388 receiving yards. He reached 650 receptions faster than any receiver in NFL history, and from 2013-16, he had the most catches and second-most receiving yards in any four-year span.
“He's superhuman on the football field,” Roethlisberger said, “and when that happens, it almost brings him back to being a mere mortal, if you will. It gets in his head and messes with all of us a little bit.”
At the time of Brown's sideline meltdown, he had three receptions for 26 yards in the first 18 minutes of the game. He had one catch for eight yards in the final 42 minutes.
Brown's 34 yards receiving were his fewest since the 2015 season and the fewest with Roethlisberger under center since the final game of the 2012 season.
“AB is the best receiver in the world, maybe one of the best to ever play the game,” Roethlisberger said. “Him and I together may be one of the best quarterback-wide receiver combos to ever play the game. I don't know that he needs to react that way.”
On the play that drew Brown's ire, the Steelers faced third-and-4 at their 36.
Brown had just caught a 10-yard pass.
Roethlisberger said the Ravens were showing a defensive look that removed Brown as a primary option.
Safety Eric Weddle, though, didn't follow Brown, leaving him in single coverage. By this time, Roethlisberger had settled on throwing a short pass to Bell.
Replays showed Brown, having cut deeper into the secondary, was wide open.
“It looks really bad. It looks like I missed him,” Roethlisberger said. “Those sometimes happen.”
Added Roethlisberger: “It wasn't like I intentionally missed him. It wasn't like I intentionally didn't throw it to him. I was doing what my reads told me to do. I don't even want to say I made a mistake because I was reading the side I was supposed to read. It's unfortunate that it happened and it's unfortunate that he acted and reacted that way.”
Roethlisberger was disappointed Brown made his frustrations public.
“I wish he would have come talked to me and said, ‘Ben, I killed him on this play.' That goes a lot further than a temper tantrum,” Roethlisberger said.
Roethlisberger also indicated Brown wasn't focused when the offense returned to the field for its next possession. He threw a deep pass to Brown into multiple coverage on the first play, but the ball dropped incomplete.
“I feel like I'm trying to talk to him to calm him down to see what is going on, to get him back to a level head and even keel,” Roethlisberger said. “Once that happens, you have a little bit going on the rest of the game. … When we went back into the huddle, I asked him, ‘Are you done? Are you good?' ”