Antonio Brown Has Been NFL’s Best Receiver On Opening Day For Last 5 Years

Common belief says that slow and steady wins the race, that in the race of the tortoise versus the hare, the tortoise always wins. Though common belief does not account for the possibility that the tortoise is not up against just any hare, but against Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Antonio Brown. Over the last five seasons, no wide receiver has gotten off to a faster start than Brown.

Brown’s 182 yards receiving in Sunday’s opening day victory over the Cleveland Browns was the fourth consecutive year in which Brown has exceeded 100 yards receiving in the season opener. Scaling back a year further shows that no wide receiver has outproduced Brown’s totals on opening day over the last five seasons in a majority of receiving categories.

Brown’s 38 receptions and 628 receiving yards lead the pack, just surpassing Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green’s output. From there, the drop off is drastic. No other receiver has achieved even 500 yards receiving and Brown’s four receiving touchdowns are only second to Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ five.

The list goes on and on for Brown’s sprinter like start. Just like Brown demonstrated Sunday, his sure-fire hands and explosiveness are a major reason why he has been able to dominate the NFL’s opening weekend over the last half decade. No wide receiver (min. 25 receptions) has been able to match Brown’s 16.5 yards per catch, and his 82.6% catch percentage ranks third behind New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (86.1%) and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (83.3%).

The Steelers have started their season off with a victory in three of the last four seasons and it is not hard to see why when a fresh Antonio Brown is suited up. Just like he has done in Washington, New England and Pittsburgh in seasons past, Brown’s fast start played a crucial part in the Steelers’ opening day efforts.

While the slow and steady tortoise may win the race, the Steelers’ slow and steady offense likely would have been unable to scrape out of a victory in Cleveland without their hare.

About the Author

Daniel Valente

Steelers fan from birth, spending majority of my free time looking up statistics. Had the honor of meeting Mike Vanderjagt shortly after his infamous missed field goal in the 2005 Divisional Round. Currently pursuing a Journalism degree. Follow me on Twitter @StatsGuyDaniel

  • jesse murray

    Correction: Brown has been best WR in league past 5 years.

  • Doogie

    I am impressed by the completion percentage and avg yds per catch..

  • Doogie

    Now if the rest of the offense plays to a level anywhere near AB, they’ll score their 30 points per game.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx


  • Steel City Slim

    Antonio Brown has been the best receiver period.

  • Jason Vancil

    He’s ok.

  • JT

    Can’t we just make the whole plane out of AB? Dude is just ridiculous. Like Troy, watching the game will not be the same without him.

  • Jason

    Probably as much a function of our offense being out of sync early and Ben simply relying on AB to bail them out. Not a bad plan really.

  • VaDave

    I love a good understatement.

  • VaDave

    Like I say, enjoy them while they are here. They’ll be gone before you know it.

  • VaDave

    Yeah, I was worried about the plan “B”…

  • John Phillips

    Bryant or Bell ?

  • stellarsfan

    I think I’ve mentioned this before, but ill always remember it. It was the year we drafted Sanders in the 3rd and Brown in the 6th. And I think Ward was holding out or injured or something so it was Mike wallace, Cotchery, and a battle between ES/AB. I remember Tomlin using the “2 dogs 1 bone” line.

    Anyway, the reporter jokingly asked AB how he felt about “Antonio” replacing “Santonio” in the Steelers offense… and I recall thinking “pshh, we’d be lucky to get half the player Holmes was out of this 6th round no-name pick. That college tape was tantalizing but so was sweed’s”.

    You guys remember him exploding in the preseason games and on his first ever official NFL touch, he took a kickoff to the house?

    Foreshadowing. He was trying to give us hints all along, but still I’m sure none of us even fathomed he’d end up becoming the best receiver in the world. Lets go AB. He deserves one of those SB rings as much as anyone else. And we have the team this year boys. The Patriots are still powerful, but are as vulnerable as they’ve ever been. Forget last year, I believe our pash rush will be the difference this year on defense(also Haden > Cockrell) and martavis the difference on offense.

    Ramble concluded.

  • Most likely. He needs a few more solid years but no reason not to expect that.

  • MC


  • MC

    I remember having such higher expectations for Sanders but man Brown overshadowed him from the start.

  • Steve

    Jessie James did not have a bad day either.

  • 6 ring circus

    Pay that man…oh…