What Brown is doing for the Steelers

November, 18, 2013
11/18/13
8:02
PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- There had been so much talk about Calvin Johnson's greatness leading up to Sunday that it was easy to forget another premier wide receiver would also be playing at Heinz Field.

That had to motivate Antonio Brown on some level.

"Competitors like these guys, they search for low-hanging fruit that is just that," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "We've got a big time wideout of our own. Not a lot was written and said about him, of course, leading up to the game. But we think he is capable of affecting the outcome of games, much like their guy."

It would be an understatement to say Brown affected the outcome of the Steelers' 37-27 win over the Lions.

He started fast -- Brown had 105 receiving yards and two touchdowns before Johnson had made a catch -- and also delivered the play of the game.

That came on a 16-yard catch in traffic that moved the chains on third down and also moved the Steelers out from the shadow of their own end zone early in the fourth quarter. Brown's grab anchored the 16-play, 97-yard touchdown drive that gave the Steelers the lead for good.

Johnson went off in the second quarter and finished with six catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns despite getting shut out in the second half. Brown nearly matched Megatron's line with six catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns, and he made more of an impact than the best wide receiver in the NFL.

Brown is not just having a Pro Bowl-caliber season but also a season for the ages.

His 74 catches are second most in Steelers history through the first 10 games of a season. His 952 receiving yards are second most in franchise history through the first 10 games.

Brown leads the NFL in receptions, and he is averaging more receiving yards per game (95.2) than the Bengals' A.J. Green.

So much for questions about whether the Steelers had a No. 1 wide receiver after Mike Wallace signed with the Dolphins in March.

"I've still got a lot to prove," Brown said.

One thing he said he didn't feel the need to do Sunday was match Johnson's exploits or play well in front of the receiver that Brown idolized when he played at Central Michigan.

"This game is not about proving yourself to any individual," Brown said. "Calvin's a great player. He's been doing it at a high level for a long time. I have nothing but respect for him."

He is also eager to see why Johnson is on a path to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Brown said the two will do some training together in Atlanta this offseason.

"I'm looking forward to working with him," Brown said, "and bettering my game in any way I can."

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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