Steelers WR Antonio Brown, Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes go way back |

Steelers WR Antonio Brown, Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes go way back

Chris Harlan

Xavier Rhodes knows Antonio Brown as well as any cornerback in the NFL.

As former high school teammates in South Florida, Rhodes built a friendship with the Steelers star long before he became A.B., the All-Pro wideout, commercial pitchman and television dancer.

That familiarity was useful Sunday as Rhodes shadowed Brown around Heinz Field.

“I believe some people are just intimidated by the name and by the plays he makes,” said Rhodes, who works out each offseason with Brown and still sees him as his former classmate from Norland High School in Miami.

The Steelers won 26-9 on Sunday, but Brown had only five catches, 62 yards and no touchdowns, a credit to Rhodes, a Pro Bowl pick last season.

“I was just going at it, being confident in my game, being comfortable in what I do,” Rhodes said. “Just go out there, be physical and play my game. I’m not being distracted by anything he does. If he makes a catch, come back the next play and play my game.”

The two last shared the field in the regular season when Rhodes was a rookie in 2013. At one point Sunday, an official told Rhodes he was holding Brown too aggressively and was flagged for pass interference in the first quarter. But for the most part the officials let them play.

Rhodes was in coverage when Brown made a toe-dragging catch along the left sideline, a second-quarter reception that needed instant replay. Two snaps later, Rhodes successfully forced Brown out of bounds on a deep throw to the other sideline.

“Rhodes is a great corner, a top corner,” Brown said. “A tough matchup today.”

Brown was targeted eight times in the first half and caught only three for 28 yards. He was held without a catch in the third quarter and added two in the fourth when a hip injury limited Rhodes.

“They’re going to throw him the ball no matter what,” Rhodes said. “He’s going to get yards. They’re going to find ways to get him the ball no matter what because he’s Antonio Brown. He’s one of the best receivers in the league.”

But with Brown shadowed, the Steelers offense at times found success elsewhere. Martavis Bryant and Juju Smith-Schuster each caught touchdowns, while Eli Rogers, Jesse James and Le’Veon Bell had four catches apiece.

Bryant led with 91 receiving yards. This came a week after Brown had 11 catches for 182 yards in Cleveland.

“It was awesome, it felt good,” Rhodes said of their matchup, “but the game ain’t all about me and him and our battle. The game is about the team and we wanted to win. So our battle was good, (we) had fun, but at the end of the day we still wanted to win.”

Brown graduated high school in 2006, Rhodes in 2009.

In the visiting locker room Sunday, Rhodes said they never imagined back then they would line up across from one another in the NFL.

“We both didn’t know that we were going to be here, but we’re both thankful,” Rhodes said. “We both give the man above all the thanks. We appreciate everything we have done. We work hard every offseason together. We try our best to be the best.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster celebrates his touchdown with Antonio Brown during the second quarter Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, at Heinz Field.
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.