In the third segment of this mini series where I showcase a Steelers athlete and their Top 5 Plays of 2016, I broke down rookie defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and how he was an absolute beast in his first season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In honor of Antonio Brown signing a five-year, $68 million contract extension, article number four will be on the insanely talented receiver that continues to make plays year in and year out. Brown, 28, was selected in the sixth-round of the 2010 NFL Draft from Central Michigan University. His career statistics are astonishing, and in 2016, he continued to put up elite numbers, registering 106 receptions for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Brown said after signing his contract that he is a ‘Steeler for life’. This needed to be done for an athlete that pours his heart into the game every single time he steps onto the football field. It’s hard to pick just five of his top plays from last season, but let’s take a look at them.
5. Antonio ‘Tony Toe Tap’ Brown
Antonio Brown has a tendency to make solid cornerbacks look below average. The Indianapolis Colts have a top athletic defender in cornerback Vontae Davis. The 28-year-old Davis has been to two Pro Bowls (2014, 2015) and has 95 pass deflections and 22 interceptions since coming into the league as a first-round pick drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2009.
There is no question that he is an above average defensive corner that makes plays every single week. It does look like there is an exception when he faces the Pittsburgh Steelers and has to go up against Brown. That is when he struggles greatly.
Brown torched Davis all game long and scored two touchdowns on him. On the above play, Brown ran a beautiful route and had excellent concentration to make sure he catches the football and gets two feet down. Great overall play to start off this top five countdown.
4. Wild Card TD, 62-yards
Beating man-to-man is what Antonio Brown does in his sleep. In the AFC Wild Card matchup against the Miami Dolphins, Brown was looking to earn his first postseason touchdown and several plays prior did just that on a 50-yard screen he took all the way to the house. While that play didn’t make our top five, because of him just following his blockers and running down the sideline, this play above was more impressive.
Brown is lined up on the left side of the field with cornerback Tony Lippett playing press man-to-man coverage. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger puts the ball right on the money and the former sixth-round draft pick uses some acceleration to get past safety Bacarri Rambo for a 62-yard touchdown.
It was a fantastic adjustment by Brown to get some separation from Lippett and to take the right angle, something Rambo didn’t do, to score his second touchdown in a matter of minutes.
3. Fake spike TD versus Cowboys
In week 10, the Steelers matched up against the 7-1 Dallas Cowboys at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Dallas, a very talented overall team, took the lead 29-24 with a minute and 13 seconds left in the fourth-quarter. Roethlisberger took his team down the field and scored on a fake spike touchdown, a play that no Cowboys defender was expecting.
It was a fantastic play call at the correct time and worked out quite well. This play would have gone down as one of the greatest if the Steelers managed to hold the lead and come out with the victory.
Nonetheless, it was a terrific throw by ‘Big Ben’ and an excellent catch by Brown.
2. Acrobatic touchdown versus Giants
This is one spectacular play. New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins, an athlete that is known for playing physical, had a tough task trying to play aggressive versus Antonio Brown.
Jenkins had fantastic coverage on Brown, and it could not have been any better in my opinion. Brown just went up and made an acrobatic catch for a touchdown. It was an outstanding athletic play for him to get his elbow down inbounds.
1. Division winning touchdown versus Ravens
“The Immaculate Extension” is what fans call this play that Antonio Brown executed against the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas day. This is by far Brown’s most athletic play in his history of playing football. Why? Simply because he had three Ravens defenders on top of him trying to push him back so he would get tackled before crossing the goal line. That didn’t work out too well.
A 5-foot-10-inch athlete that now weighs 200 pounds had the pure determination to cross that goal line. It won the AFC North Title and clinched Pittsburgh a playoff spot. There is no other player that I want in this situation.
Brown’s future in Pittsburgh is secured for five more years. It’s a great thing to have such a special player in a Steelers uniform. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for this team overall but just know BUSINESS IS BOOMIN!
Feel free to tell me your top five plays for Antonio Brown. If the plays are solid and you think they should be in a different order, let me know in the comments below. He is here to stay and defenses better be prepared for the next several years.