When Pittsburgh Steelers Antonio Brown returned a punt 71-yards for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 13 on Sunday Night Football, it was a milestone for Brown. Not just because it was the fourth punt return for a touchdown in his career, but because it was his first punt return touchdown against a team that wasn't the Cincinnati Bengals.
Of his 4 punt returns, 3 have all come against Cincinnati. 2011, 2013 and 2014 were the years Brown took a punt back to the house to help the Steelers beat their AFC North rivals. When I realized this, I summoned the help of our local "GIF Master" Christopher Carter to see if he could give me those three plays as a part of my "Throwback Thursday" article leading up to the big Week 14 game in Cincinnati. Of course, he didn't disappoint and came through in the clutch.
2011 at Heinz Field:
Notes: Want to know how fast Brown is? Simply watch his change of direction on this play, but more than that, watch how the punter actually has a good angle in pursuit on Brown. It doesn't matter. One inside move and Brown is gone, marking his first punt return TD of his career, and his first time being a true thorn in the side of the Bengals.
2013 at Heinz Field:
Notes: I was in attendance at this game, nearly froze to death, but that aside, this was the play where fans thought Terence Garvin killed the Bengals punter Kevin Huber. You can see the hit in the middle of the field just beyond the Steelers logo at midfield. This punt return was part of an early onslaught against the Bengals which Cincinnati was never able to recover from.
2014 at Heinz Field
Notes: Finally, in 2014 when Brown went the distance in the Week 17 matchup helping Pittsburgh solidify the AFC North Championship. Brown's change of direction and speed out of his break might be second-to-none in the league. Just watch the play several times, and each time you shake your head at how he was able to accomplish such a feat. Also, notice the TD celebration...Brown has improved his flip tremendously since then.
Conclusion: Antonio Brown is as dynamic as they come, and his knack for torching the Bengals in the punt return game is one which is truly unique. Maybe it is just coincidence, but with Jacoby Jones being demoted in Week 13, it means Brown will be returning punts this Sunday in Cincinnati. Brown will look to make more history with his first punt return against the Bengals on their turf, and ultimately help the Steelers advance their positioning to get into the AFC Playoffs in 2015.
Final thought: If you are stuck at work Thursday and can't seem to get motivated, just watch these punt returns a million times. It never gets old. Won't necessarily help with motivation, but will kill some time.