Some people are not the biggest fans of Antonio Brown at the moment.
Whether it is his “fair catching” of punts with nobody within 15 yards of him, his dropped touchdowns passes, or his post-play celebrations of pedestrian of NFL accomplishments like first downs, Brown is not necessarily endearing himself to numbers of people in “Steeler Nation.”
Behavior aside, credit must still go to the wide receiver for his productivity this year in the passing game. In fact, the former Central Michigan Chippewa is on pace to shatter some of the franchise’s single-season records if he continues to perform at his current level.
The two biggest franchise records Brown could be primed to break are the single-season marks for receptions (Hines Ward, 112, 2002) and receiving yards (Yancey Thigpen, 1,398, 1997).
Through five games, Brown has already hauled in 41 catches and is already on pace to shatter Ward’s mark by almost 20 catches (131 projected total). During Ward’s first five games of the 2002 campaign, the future “Hall of Famer” only registered 33 catches.
Hines however really heated up when it came to his productivity in the middle of that season, and he racked up 30 grabs over a three-game stretch during Weeks 9-11 as the Steelers evolved in to a “pass-first” unit under starting quarterback Tommy Maddox.
Ward finished the year with 36 catches in his final six regular season contests to not only break the record he set for receptions in a season the year before (94 in 2001), but those grabs also made him the first and only Steeler to record 100+ catches in a regular season.
Thigpen’s record is particularly impressive for two reasons: the offense was based heavily around Jerome Bettis when “The Bus” was in his prime, and Pittsburgh’s “number one” wide receiver did not suit up in a regular season game from August 31, 1997 to September 22, 1997 (he only missed one game due to an early bye week).
In spite of his slow start during his first five regular season games (371 receiving yards), Thigpen came on strong towards the end of that year and posted 100+ yards receiving in five of Pittsburgh’s final 10 regular season games. During that span, Thigpen hauled in 196 yards against Jacksonville in a crucial divisional game and another 175 against the Denver Broncos (the future Super Bowl champions).
So far, Brown is on pace to shatter Thigpen’s old mark. With 498 receiving yards through his first five games, Brown is on pace to record 1,594 for the season and best the record set in 1997 by almost 200 yards!
Say what you want about Brown, but his productivity has been undeniable.
I for one will be interested to see how he continues to play down the stretch, and those aforementioned records could be in danger with the type of rapport that Ben Roethlisberger and Brown have developed so far this fall.
As the team’s most potent pass-receiving threat outside the numbers, Brown should receive plenty of chances as the season progresses to put his name at the top of some of the franchise’s single-season receiving records.
Like “NPC” on Facebook: Nice Pick, Cowher