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Antonio Brown among league leaders in receiving statistics

While the turnovers are still holding this team down, the offense has showed marked improvement with each passing week, and Antonio Brown is a big part of that.

Jamie McDonald

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown caught a career-high 12 passes in Sunday's loss to the Vikings, a week after getting career-highs in yards (196) and touchdowns (two). The hot streak on which the fourth-year receiver finds himself has put him fourth in the NFL with 412 yards, heading into Monday night's game between Miami and New Orleans. He's also fourth in the league with 32 receptions and seventh with an average of 103 yards per game.

He's the shining example of how the Steelers' offense is coming together. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has turned the ball over at an unacceptable rate (at least two in every game so far this season), but the chemistry between he and Brown is noticeably positive, as demonstrated by the fact Brown's 12 catches came on 13 targets against the Vikings.

While the argument can be made they picked on overwhelmed backup cornerback Josh Robinson most of the game, the fact is Brown has become the playmaker in this offense the team has needed him - and expected him - to be over the last two seasons. The pace he's on, Brown would finish the season with 128 catches for 1,648 yards (both marks would be franchise records) and eight touchdowns.

It isn't realistic to think Brown and Roethlisberger would keep up such a torrid pace, but any time a receiver and quarterback are netting completions on 92 percent of their targets, like they did against Minnesota, good things are happening.

And they're happening across the line for this offense. The return of Heath Miller and the game-to-game improvement from David Johnson is helping shore up an offensive line that was savaged early in the season. With the exception of the gaping hole at left tackle - the final frontier, as far as this offense is concerned - the Steelers offense is starting to become much more dangerous for opposing defenses.

Obviously 27 points wasn't enough in this game, and Roethlisberger's turnovers being at least as glaring as the inadequate protection coming from the offensive left edge, the Steelers still had the ball inside the Vikings' 10-yard line with a chance to tie the game. It's a far cry from Week 1, in which the Steelers scored their first touchdown with under two minutes to play.

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