Antonio Brown is not Mike Wallace or Keyshawn.
He was visibly frustrated last week against the Bengals, and who could blame him? Challenging his coach on the sideline probably wasn't the best way to go about it, but don't be mistaken, this wasn't like Mike Wallace's muted post-win narcissism. Brown wanted to help his team win. I may be making an excuse for him, but it certainly seems different. He thought he could be better used to help them win. Hard to disagree with that considering the results.
Brown had the best statistical performance of his career last night -- tying a career high in catches, shattering his previous high in receiving yards with 196 (previously 151), and scoring twice in a game for the first time in his young career.
And you know what the final score was. But hey, it was a little closer.
If that's what comes from a little sideline tiff, maybe the offensive line should bum-rush their offensive coordinator and take turns trading blows with him mano-a-mano in the locker room tunnel. Maybe Roethlisberger and Haley need to work out their differences by way of an old-timey switchblade dance. Quarter-inch only, fellas. No sticking.
Of course, a better solution would be to stop giving the ball to the other team. In fact, employing that avant-garde strategy would've kept the game incredibly close. But what do I know? I've never spent any time with Kurt Warner.
Brown reminded us what he can be -- Mike Wallace with better hands.
I was watching the game with my brother -- also a Steelers fan -- and when Brown miraculously snagged that ball just inside the end line I said, I can't believe he caught that! And as he finished his celebratory lap around the sofa he replied, I can! I just NBSaw It! It was a great catch and the technology used to confirm is actually pretty damn cool. Especially when they used it to show Brown looking unstoppable against a secondary many people around the league consider one of the best in football.
But career highs like that happen often when your team is down two scores right out of the gate and the only offensive option your team has is to pass on nearly every play, giving the defense free range to pin their ears back and tee off on your protection. The result: turnovers. Many, many turnovers. The Steelers might actually be on to a little something offensively, but passing that often is going to have some serious consequences if Ben is the unquestioned target in the backfield on every play.
Haley didn't really have a choice last night. He probably didn't want to reward Brown for coming after him like that, but when the gameplan gets boiled down to backyard gunslinging, Roethlisberger's going to find his best guy most often. The point Brown seemed to miss in the Bengals game is this:
Haley wasn't trying to intentionally deny you the ball, Brown Bear. He wants to get it to you, desperately. The thing is, he's just not that good at it. Well, not on purpose anyway.