Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown is the owner of one of the most unorthodox, but impressive receiving records in the books. He’s snagged at least five catches for 50 or more yards in a 34 straight games – a record that is nearly a season better than the second place finisher in that category.
Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com is not impressed.
Barnwell claims the record is wholly “arbitrary” and undersells the level of talent Brown possesses. And he’s not exactly wrong.
Brown is already the league leader in receiving yards and a close second in receptions (before Odell Beckham Jr. and Jordan Reed overtook Brown on Thursday). He led the NFL in both categories last season and posted over 100 receptions and nearly 1,500 yards in 2013. If Brown merely hits the minimum five-catch, yard threshold each week, his numbers would be a still-impressive 80-catches for 800 yards; decent totals for many receivers, but a far, far cry from what Pittsburgh’s All-Pro receiver has cemented as commonplace.
Instead, he suggests Brown should be targeting a record more befitting of his skill set: The streak of consecutive games with 100 or more receiving yards mark.
As it stands, Brown has accrued 100 or more receiving yards in four straight games dating back to last season. The all-time record stands at eight straight, accomplished by Lions WR Calvin Johnson in the midst of his record-breaking 2012 season. Brown is clearly the focal point of Pittsburgh’s passing attack and Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target, so pushing for that streak should be his goal, not an “undignified”streak like his current five-catch, 50-yard mark.
What Barnwell is failing to consider about this “undignified” streak, though, is how large the margin between Brown and the second-place finisher in that regard is. If the this streak was arbitrary as he suggests, then it would stand to reason that such records should be commonplace. Lavernanues Coles has 19 games with five catches and 50 yards, which is the second-most ever. Coles was no slouch, either. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2003 and finished his career with just shy of 9,000 receiving yards and 50 touchdowns.
The fact that Brown is hitting this weekly mark as a baseline, rather than an explicit aim, speaks extremely highly of the superstar he’s become. Shooting three pointers looks easy when Steph Curry does it just like hitting home runs seems like a piece of cake when it’s Andrew McCutchen swinging the bat; that doesn’t mean it would be easy for you or me to do.
Brown’s dominance, it seems, has made an extremely impressive streak seem ordinary to many observers. Brown should absolutely be setting his sights higher, and he is, but the fact that he’s hitting this mark with such regularity makes this among the most impressive records in sports.