Steelers’ Antonio Brown torches Titans for 3 TDs |

Steelers’ Antonio Brown torches Titans for 3 TDs

There's something about the combination of Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger in a prime-time game at Heinz Field.

“It's something special,” Brown said Thursday night after pulling in three touchdowns in the Steelers' 40-17 rout of the Tennessee Titans. “Any time you play with a guy like Ben in a prime time setting, the play-making ability is going to be up. You know the splash plays are going to be there, and it's going to be a lot of fun.”

It was Brown's second career three-TD game. The only other Steelers player with a pair is John Stallworth. Brown also extended his reception streak to 109 regular-season games.

“He's the best in the world,” Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier said of Brown.

The Titans tried to contain Brown with single coverage, but he torched it for 144 yards on 10 catches. When he saw the man defense, Roethlisberger had a sense Brown would break out.

“It's a pretty good feeling,” Roethlisberger said.

Brown ignited the crowd of 60,703 with a 41-yard haul on the opening drive, then capped his day with another signature one-handed grab.

Even when Brown did something wrong, it turned out right. In the final minute of the second quarter, Brown fumbled after grabbing a 19-yard pass.

The ball squirted 8 yards downfield, where Martavis Bryant fell on it. That set up Chris Boswell's 50-yard field goal that gave the Steelers a 16-7 halftime lead.

“Tonight, A.B. did his job,” Bryant said. “He did a great job, and guys fed off that. It only takes one guy to make a great play and set the tone.”

Brown leads the NFL with a 44.46 percentage share of air yards, a metric of how much of a team's deep yards a player accounts for. He also tops the league in two more conventional categories — 70 catches and 1,026 receiving yards.

Yet, over the three previous games, Brown had a total of just 12 catches for 182 yards and one score. Last Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, he was held to three catches for 47 yards and accounted for just 38.3 percent of the Steelers' air attack.

On Thursday, the Titans practically invited Brown to get back in sync. The Steelers' first drive was a 75-yard, no-huddle sprint, and Brown often was matched only against cornerback Adoree Jackson.

“I love it sometimes … all the time, for the most part,” Brown said, grinning. “When you've got two guys on you all the time, it's tough. I love it when (teams) bet on their guy against me. I'll take that matchup all day.”

On the sixth play of the game, Brown saw linebacker Derrick Morgan jump offside before the snap. Brown split free safety Kevin Byard and cornerback LeShaun Sims and snagged a 41-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone.

“I knew I had to get up to full speed, and Ben was going to give me a shot,” Brown said.

Brown accounted for two of the Steelers' three second-half touchdowns with grabs of 5 and 10 yards. On his final catch, Brown pinned the ball against his helmet as he tumbled into the end zone.

“I don't know how you defend that,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “It's a great play. I don't know how you defend Antonio Brown.”

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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