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To Be The Man Sunday In Cleveland, Antonio Brown Will Have To Beat The Man Named Joe Haden


Wrestler Ric Flair has long said, “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.” Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown will have the task of beating his man, who just happens to be one of the best cover guys currently in the league. That man is Browns cornerback Joe Haden.

Heading into this game, Haden has been targeted 63 times this season and has only given up 33 receptions (52.4%) for 308 yards. Last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, he completely shut down wide receiver A.J. Green, who finished the game with just one catch for three yards. Haden also picked off quarterback Andy Dalton twice in the game.

In the game prior to that one, Haden held Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith to just two catches for 12 yards in the five times he was targeted while covering him. Oh, he also had an interception in that game as well.

Brown, who currently leads the league in receptions with 74, has an amazing completion rate this season of 73.3% and that is tops in the league among wide receivers who have been targeted 40 or more times, according to Pro Football Focus.

“(Brown) does stuff differently,” Haden said on Wednesday. “I’ve been going against a lot of bigger guys, but with him he’s really quick. He runs the best routes out of the people we are going against and he has really good hands.

“And with (quarterback Ben) Roethlisberger, when the first things are covered, Roethlisberger scrambles. He just takes off up field. So you have to make sure you stay locked in and plaster your receiver.”

15 of Brown’s 74 catches this season have gone for 20 yards or more, but the Browns have only allowed 25 explosive receptions all season with Haden only being responsible for four of them and a long of 28 yards.

Brown, however, has had success against Haden in previous meetings as he as has caught seven of eight passes thrown his way for 153 yards and a touchdown when covered by the Florida product. This time around, Brown will likely have Haden on him for the entire game, so we will know for sure who the man is when the final seconds tick off the clock Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.

In order for the Steelers to win this game, Brown will indeed have to beat his man.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • steeltown

    Haden is a damn good corner, but everyone is picking off Dalton and Flacco this year. If he shuts down A.Brown it just means Heath, Le’Veon and Jerricho need to step up!

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Brown has been a focal point of defenses and he still has been getting his catches. Haden may slow him down but I still think Brown will get a minimum of 5 catches.

  • Ahmad

    Even though Haden will most likely be on Brown all day, I still expect him to make his fair share of catches with at least 2-3 on bubble screens. That’s a given. Also with all the attention being put on Brown, that means the other receivers are going to be facing single coverage and need to step up their games.

  • Chad H

    I want to see a old style Steelers game where Bell will rush for 150 yards. I also believe with Hayden locked up on Brown Steelers are working on some plays with Wheaton this week. Remember Wallace in his rookie campaign? We may see some of that.

  • Eric

    With all the screens to Brown, 5 is in the bag. He just needs to get a lot of YAC to have a productive day

  • steeltown

    I wish but if Sanders is back this week, and I think he is, Wheaton’s snaps will be very limited

  • ATL96STEELER

    Hayden is a good corner, but I’m not that concerned about him shutting down AB…agree with the thought it might be time to unleash Wheaton…especially on some deep patterns.

  • ATL96STEELER

    That would be nice, but they’re not built for it…Colon & DeCastro might’ve been a better tandem to pound it. I wouldn’t mind seeing more passing actually out of the big run pkg look with Adams @ TE. Bell will get 20-25 touches I’m guessing between rushing and receiving.

  • Eric

    Wow. 75 would be great but I will take 150

  • steeler fever

    WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
    AB has continually exceeded my expectations for him.

  • steeler fever

    I imagine the broken finger set Markus development back, hopefully he has a better and more involved second half of the season. slowly supplanting ES.

  • westcoasteeler

    Isn’t Hayden singled up on the opposing teams best wide out? So they give extra help to the other side? Heath and Bell/Dwyer have to have big games. I don’t think Sanders will step up. The defence would be wise to score a touchdown too. AND, we can’t turn the ball over 8 times. That’s a killer.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I like Hayden’s game really good corner but like he said he’s been facing some big tall receivers but AB presents a different problem as he’s quick as a cat. AB is really proving his worth and I tip my cap to the front office they made a great decision to lock up AB for a reasonable contract.

  • charles

    Bell looked like a dynamic reciever against Detroit. I would be shocked if Haley and Ben don’t give him opportunities to make a splash.

  • RMSteeler

    With AB’s size, his route running is his key, and he has been awesome so far this year. He’s been getting separation from faster guys that way. Ben has to be especially accurate this game and pass plays will be there.

  • charles

    One of the better stat analysis’ that I have read this year. If AB can better Haden the Steelers walk with this game. We have too many other weapons for the Browns. If the D can take away the run, I think Campbell has a hard time beating us with his arm. But, you never know and that is why they play the game.

  • cencalsteeler

    Take Haden deep. If Brown can’t shake him, dump to the short route underneath with Sanders, Cotch, Wheaton, Johnson, Miller or Bell and pile up the YAC.

  • Jeff

    I’ve seen that fake screen probably 4 or 5 times this year from the steelers. I’ve seen Heath as the go to guy and obviously Cotch last game (and a few of the other times too). If some homer steeler fan notices it, the browns will notice it on film too. These guys are pros. Still, I think we should use it, but only if the screen game is working for a lot of the game. If it’s working, the corners are going to start pressing more, and then it’s time to hit them with it.

  • ATL96STEELER

    The WR bubble screen is a stock play for every team…many Steeler fans hate it b/c our WRs don’t block it well, but it finally paid off with the fake last week…that fake for the TD will make the DB think for half a sec, and maybe the WR can get a better block…who knows.

    If they play m-t-m which they probably will some…I think you run Haden off some rub off (pick) plays crossing patterns…bunched formations, to get a clean release…if Sanders is really back, he could have a big day…50+ yds last week, I like Bell from the backfield again this week as a receiver..

  • Asmitty56

    What brown has going for him that Green and Smith likely did not, Brown has the luxury of playing in the slot, that’s just more ground Haden has to potentially cover. I would love to see some rub routes to get Brown on a free release when he gets the ball thrown to him. That being said, I hope Cotchery continues his success, and it would be nice if Miller could show up this game or potentially Wheaton.

  • Asmitty56

    All depends on the down field blocking, it’s been lacking this season but it sure looked good last week.

  • AndyR34

    You’re dreamin’ Chad!

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I think you are right but I do not like being over confident because that leads to let downs.

  • Steve

    Wheaton and Sanders have shown little this year. Cotch and Miller will be the open recievers if they Double Brown, with Cotch being the go to guy. Miller has not been himself since the knee problem, although he can still catch a ball.

  • charles

    Bell was dynamic in catch and run department against the Lions. Hopefully Haley and Ben find a way to get him the ball in the open field.

  • Jeff

    Brown really is developing into a top 5 receiver in the NFL and it isn’t going unnoticed by others in the league. I can’t help but remember a few years back when Ladarius Webb of the Ravens said that Brown was better than Wallace (who was our #1 receiver at the time). Maybe he was trying to get under Wallace’s skin, which he did, but he was also right!

  • RASTA

    This game situation ( cold/Hayden) has Cotchery written all over it! I love AB and he is my ff star as well, but this weekend is decoy ball to free up JC, Heath, & Will Johnson. Ben needs no picks so better to pump fake AB all day and reap the rewards of the tri-fecta of talent above! Go Steelers

  • Asmitty56

    Not sure what’s up with Sanders, he still lacks chemistry with Ben. Wheaton is simply a rookie.

  • Chad H

    Hey we are in the holiday season. Can’t a man wish for something?

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