Antonio Brown wasn’t exactly a household name when the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted the speedy wide receiver out of Central Michigan in the sixth round of last year’s NFL draft.
Over the past two weeks, Brown has done a lot to change that.
While not as impressive as his helmet-aided, 58-yard catch in the Steelers’ win over Baltimore in the AFC divisional playoffs, his only catch during Sunday’s AFC championship helped Pittsburgh to its eighth Super Bowl trip. A 14-yard grab out of the two-minute warning on a third-and-6 snap secured the Steelers’ 24-19 win over the New York Jets at Heinz Field.
While Brown wasn’t the first choice on the play as it was designed – Hines Ward was
– the rookie’s ability to get open helped another Steelers playmaker make another big pass.
“We expected (the Jets) to bring the house,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “They dropped everybody, so as soon as I saw them leave, it was a really, really tight window in order to get it to Hines. My thought was: ‘Let’s try and run it.’ I started running to the sideline and next thing you know, ‘AB’ comes flying across the field. He beat them with speed.
“I just threw it and he made a heck of a catch.”
For Brown, his reaction following the game sounded like that of a seasoned veteran.
“They had no more timeouts,” Brown said. “It’s just a great feeling. To seal our victory with the final catch and know that we had an opportunity to waste the clock and get that victory.”
Brown’s path to the NFL saw him post prolific numbers not only as a receiver with the Chippewas, but also as a special teams star, twice winning the Mid-American Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Year award.
His 24-yard return on a kickoff following a Jets score that cut the Steelers’ once-huge lead to 24-19 also played a vital role late in the game, giving Pittsburgh possession at its 41.
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