Sunday, September 27, 2015
Key matchup. Steelers WR Antonio Brown vs. Rams CB Janoris Jenkins.
Antonio Brown might be the best receiver in the NFL, so anything Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins can do to slow him would be a bonus.
By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Antonio Brown thinks he is the best receiver in the National Football League, and he certainly has the numbers to prove it.
After having one of the greatest seasons by a wide receiver in NFL history in 2014, Brown is right back where he left off, torturing opposing defenses and posting numbers that are ahead of his record pace from last year.
Brown had nine catches for 195 yards against the San Francisco 49ers — his career best is 199 yards — and he did any number of ways against a defense that tried every which way to stop him. It didn’t help that the 49ers, who played a lot of nickel run defense, never sacked Roethlisberger or hurried him into a throw.
“If you’re a receiver and play the game, everyone should think they’re the best,” Brown said. “I do feel I’m the best, but that’s only my word. My actions will speak louder than anything I say. I got to go out and prove it.”
Brown does that game after game, with seemingly no end in sight. After catching 129 passes (second most in NFL history) and gaining 1,698 receiving yards (sixth most in league history) last season, the three-time Pro Bowl receiver is already ahead of the pace that allowed him to be the first Steelers player to lead the league in receptions and receiving yards in the same season.
With 18 catches for a league-best 328 receiving yards after two games, Brown would be on pace for 144 catches — one better than Marvin Harrison’s NFL single-season record (143) — and a whopping 2,624 yards that would blow away Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,964 yards in 2012.
Granted, it’s only two games and Brown isn’t always going to have days like he did against the 49ers when he had catches of 28, 56 and 59 yards. But his ability to continue to get open and be productive against all kinds of defensive coverages seem to make anything possible with him.
“I saw a little bit of everything [against the 49ers],” Brown said. I saw some press coverage, I saw double coverage, I saw them trying to blitz and get back to double coverage. We saw a variety of things and we were able to exploit some of that.
“It was fun to be a part of. Anytime you get Ben slinging the ball down the grass and me catching passes, it’s a fun day at work.”
The Rams will hope to change that. They will try to pressure Roethlisberger with their talented defensive line and hope cornerback Janoris Jenkins can keep Brown under some semblance of control.
Jenkins, 26, has seven career interceptions and more defensive touchdowns (6) than any NFL player since he came into the league in 2012 as a second-round draft choice. But that larcenous style comes at a price, too.
Jenkins likes to sit on routes and jump throws, sometimes leaving him susceptible to doubles moves and big pass plays. A perfect example came last week against the Redskins when he got beat for a 35-yard catch by receiver Ryan Grant that set up a field goal.
“They’re a team trying to disrupt your timing with their pass rush,” Brown said. “I think it’s going to be a catch-and-run week. We’re going to have to get open and catch the football and run for some extra yards. We’ll have to get the ball out quick and keep Ben clean.”