By Matthew Marczi
With his nine-reception, 87-yard effort today against the Cleveland Browns, wide receiver Antonio Brown became the first player in NFL history to finish a regular season with at least five catches and 50 receiving yards in every game.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith finished the 2001 season with at least five receptions in every game, but he fell shy of 50 yards in Week Six of that season when he managed only 49 yards.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garçon also finished the season this year with at least five receptions in every game—just the third receiver ever to do that—but he too fell short of 50 yards in a few games.
The mark that Brown was able to set this year is the embodiment of consistency, something that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has come to rely upon now that the fourth-year receiver has emerged as the top wideout.
When a quarterback knows that he can count on a target to achieve that type of production game in and game out, it provides him with a sense of comfort and trust—which is unusual for an outside receiver that is just 5’10”.
Brown nearly reached yet another franchise record with his nine-reception day, finishing the year with 110 receptions. That mark fell just two shy of Hines Ward’s franchise-best 112 receptions. Nevertheless, Brown is just the second player in team history to crack the triple-digit mark.
One franchise record that he did break this year was Yancey Thigpen’s single-season receiving yardage mark of 1398. He was able to achieve that last week, and only further separated himself today, as he now extended his franchise-best mark to 1499 yards—over 100 more than the next best.
That Brown managed to maintain a yards per catch average of greater than 13.6 yards despite all the shallow targets that he received this season is another remarkable aspect of his year all on its own.
Additionally, he surpassed his previous career-best of five touchdowns this year, ending up with eight, plus another on a punt return. There was some concern as to what kind of productivity Brown would be able to have in the end zone, having had so few in his first three seasons, though he upped his production at the end of the 2012 season.
Brown deservedly earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver this year. He also made it this year as a punt returner, the second time he’s done that.
This was the breakout season the front office, as well as the entire fan base, was not only hoping for, but also counting upon, and he delivered.