The sun rose in the east and Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown continued his streak last week of consecutive games with five catches for 50 or more yards to 34 straight games.
Antonio Brown took ten targets for nine catches, 133 yards and a touchdown against a New England Patriots defense that did everything it could to keep Brown from getting the ball.
After last season it looked as if Antonio Brown had nothing left to improve on in his receiving skills, but in his first game he showed that somehow he's continuing to ascend. He included some great route-running and catches in traffic despite blanketing double coverages and a tight-shadowing Malcolm Butler literally hanging off of Brown on some passes.
Though some may play down the importance of Brown's streak due to it not resulting in a high touchdown total, it is a relevant statistic that illustrates his unbelievable skills as a wide receiver. When most people think about the typical elite wide receiver in the NFL the usual charateristics looked for are good hands, speed and height. Brown brings the hands and the speed, but his ability to run crisp routes and his explosiveness make him a lot more difficult to cover than a typical tall receiver who can win the occasional jump ball (Brown does those too).
Most people might name Demariyus Thomas, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant or Julio Jones as the best wide receivers in the league, but each those players have games where cornerbacks are able to shut them down or severely limit their productivity to just a couple catches for not that many yards.
That hasn't happened in over two seasons for Antonio Brown. His 34-game streak includes the playoff game from last season and the season opener this year, but encompasses two full NFL seasons where no cornerback in the NFL could shut him down. In this streak, Brown has had to face cornerbacks such as Joe Haden, Lardarius Webb, Vontae Davis, Brent Grimes and several other notable cornerbacks with good reputations as defenders.
But if you asked Brown about the streak, he would tell you he's not thinking about it, and would rather focus on how to be better and keep getting the best of his opponents every week.
"I don't tend to think about it," Brown told NFL Live's Trey Wingo this week. "I just go out and try to execute the gameplan the best way possible...Run my routes and win matchups and let things fall into place."
That's the mentality you look for in all-stars such as Brown to have; as long as he handles his business on a week-by-week basis, the streak will take care of itself. It doesn't matter how little attention it gets, if he keeps making plays it gives the Steelers a better chance to win.
Pittsburgh fans are enjoying one heck of a
run marathon that Brown has been on for quite some time and he does not show any sign of slowing down. Look for him to continue the streak during the Steelers' home opener against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday.