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|12-25-2011, 09:00 AM||#1|
A Son of Martha
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Antonio Brown sets Steelers record for all-purpose yards
Antonio Brown sets Steelers record for all-purpose yards
Sunday, December 25, 2011
By Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
With one 19-yard reception in the fourth quarter, second-year receiver Antonio Brown set a franchise record and went over 1,000 yards receiving Saturday for the first time in his career.
Brown became the franchise's single-season leader in all-purpose yards after reeling in a pass from quarterback Charlie Batch. Brown, who also serves as the punt returner and kickoff returner, has 2,048 all-purpose yards.
Brown has 1,018 yards receiving, 664 on kickoff returns, 325 on punt returns and 41 rushing. The record previously was held by Barry Foster, who compiled 2,034 yards in 1992.
"It's prestigious," Brown said. "I play for one of the greatest organizations. To have something like that, that's special. I'm just thankful."
Brown said he had no idea he broke a franchise record until he heard an announcement over the loud speakers at Heinz Field. He did know that he was close to getting his first 1,000-yard receiving season.
Brown became the second Steelers receiver to go over 1,000 yards this season. Mike Wallace has 1,182 yards after catching four passes against the Rams for 82 yards.
The Steelers have two 1,000-yard receivers for the second time in three seasons. Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward had 1,000-yard seasons in 2009.
Brown had an off day by his standards. He had three receptions for 34 yards and one rush for 8 yards. His most impressive play of the game came on special teams.
Rams punter Donnie Jones tried to execute a fake punt and was closing in on the first-down marker early in the second quarter when Brown came up from his deep position and tackled Jones 1 yard shy of a first down.
"I was about 35 or 40 yards deep," Brown said. "I saw at the snap of the ball he kind of like hugged the ball like he was throwing a pass. I hurried down to make a stop."
It was the first of two tackles in the game for Brown. On the ensuing drive, Batch threw a pass in the direction of Brown, who slipped and fell to the turf. Rams defensive back Josh Gordy intercepted and Brown had to make the stop.
New time for finale
The Steelers' season finale next Sunday against the Browns in Cleveland was changed to a 4:15 p.m. kickoff to accommodate CBS. The game originally was set for a 1 p.m. start.
Ward five away from 1,000
Ward started the game and was a bigger part of the game plan. He caught four passes for 32 yards. Ward is five receptions shy of 1,000 for his career.
The Steelers play next Sunday at Cleveland in the regular-season finale. Ward had one catch against the Browns when the Steelers beat them Dec. 8 at Heinz Field.
Clay perfect in debut
One carry, one touchdown. Rookie running back John Clay is batting 1.000 for the Steelers.
One week ago, Clay was on the practice squad and having his first season as a professional wind down without much fanfare. Then, Mewelde Moore sprained his knee Monday night against San Francisco, and Clay was promoted to the active roster.
On Saturday, Clay scored the first touchdown of his career the first time he touched the ball. Clay, an undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin, ran in from 10 yards midway through the second quarter to give the Steelers a 10-0 lead. He was in the game because Rashard Mendenhall had just burst through the line for a 52-yard gain and needed a breather.
"They told me to go in there and spell him," Clay said. "The play was a run and I took advantage of it. The offensive line did a great job opening a side for me, and all I had to do was make one guy miss."
Two players had to get injured for Clay to be added to the 53-man roster. Jonathan Dwyer was placed on injured reserve earlier this season and then Moore had to go down. Clay quickly has learned about coach Mike Tomlin's next-man-up mantra.
"Everyone believes in it here," he said. "When you get in the game, you have to produce like you're a starter or like you've been a Pro Bowl player."
Mendenhall gets 100
Mendenhall had 18 carries for 116 yards. It was just the second time this season Mendenhall had a 100-yard game.
A big chunk came on a 52-yard run in the second quarter. Mendenhall had not broken a run of more than 26 yards in the first 14 games.
Jackson does, too
Rams running back Steven Jackson became the third opposing back this season to gain 100 yards or more on the Steelers. Jackson rushed 24 times for 103 yards. Jackson went over 1,000 yards for the seventh consecutive season. He has 1,069 yards for the season.
"My guys fought hard for me," Jackson said. "They all dug in and helped me and I'm very grateful for that. It's something you dream about."
Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, who has seen his team nosedive to a 2-13 season, said Jackson's play is indicative of the kind of player he is.
"On a level of admiration on a scale of 1 to 10, I'm at a 15," he said. "He is a very passionate football player. He's passionate about how he plays, the way he plays. He's passionate about the team he plays for. He's passionate about the guys he plays for."
And Jackson takes great pride in his leadership on the team.
"I take great pride in being the bell cow," Jackson said. "I want to be the one setting the example for the younger players on the team.
Jackson high on Chryst
Jackson's offensive coordinator for part of his three years at the start of the decade at Oregon State was new Pitt coach Paul Chryst. Jackson had nothing but good things to say about the new guy in charge of the Panthers.
"He's a great coach," he said. "If I were a parent, I'd send my kid to play for him."
Jackson said Chryst had a way of working with players as they came in and helping them to mature into "good men."
Shuffle up and deal
The Steelers were down to their third-string center after their second play from scrimmage. Doug Legursky, who was starting for Maurkice Pouncey, injured his shoulder as he attempted to make a block downfield on their second play from scrimmage.
That forced Trai Essex, who made the start at left guard, to move over to center. Chris Kemoeatu, who lost his starting job earlier this month, came off the bench to play left guard. That wasn't the only lineup change. Jonathan Scott replaced rookie Marcus Gilbert at right tackle. Gilbert had started the previous eight games. Tomlin said he wanted to send a message to Gilbert because he did not prepare for the game in a professional manner. Tomlin said Legursky was the only player injured in the game.
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter @rayfitt1. Sports editor Jerry Micco contributed.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11359...#ixzz1hYhjwOuW
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