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Ben Roethlisberger injury could affect Antonio Brown's historic pace

PITTSBURGH -- Antonio Brown’s torrid start to 2015 -- an extension of a historic two-year stretch -- will be tested by QB Ben Roethlisberger's knee injury.

Brown has maintained for weeks that he doesn’t think about his streak of 35 straight regular-season games with at least five catches and at least 50 yards. In case you haven’t heard, the streak is insane -- the next-closest is Laveranues Coles with 19. According to ESPN advanced stats, the chances of a top NFL wide receiver going for 5 and 50 in 35 straight are 0.01 percent.

Maintaining that streak just got harder, even for Brown’s standards.

Brown can always get open. That’s not the point. Brown has a chemistry with Roethlisberger, on and off the field.

“I don’t think you can re-create that. I don’t think you can,” Brown said. “That’s been a work in progress for a lot of years. What we can do is get better, grow, try to be the best we can be.”

Roethlisberger throws to Brown about 30 percent of the time on broken plays. Every play call can morph into something else entirely, often Roethlisberger buying time while Brown finds a soft spot in the defense. The results are magnetic. That relationship is a big reason why Brown has 29 catches for 436 yards and two scores through three games, trailing only Julio Jones on the NFL leaderboard in yards and receptions.

Roethlisberger is even teasing Brown that he should marry his longtime girlfriend. These two players are pretty tight.

Things with backup QB Michael Vick could be different. Vick, for all his talents, isn't known as an accurate passer. Roethlisberger completed 67 percent of his passes last year and was hitting on a volcanic 75.3 percent through two-and-a-half games this year. Vick is a career 56 percent passer. Brown can make an assortment of tough grabs, but he needs the ball to come his way. To be sure, Vick has never had a supporting cast like this. He certainly didn't with the New York Jets last year. Perhaps a new, more accurate Vick will emerge because of the playmakers around him.

The good thing for Brown: He prepares for these moments. If he has his way, success doesn’t hinge on anyone else but himself.

Brown, 27, can make a case as the game's best receiver, and that case doesn't stand on statistics alone. Fundamentals, mental preparation, footwork and ability to handle constant double-teams separate Brown from the rest, he says.

Maybe that's why Brown isn't uneasy about his current situation.

"My job is to catch the ball no matter how they throw it," Brown said. "You’ve got to be able to catch the ball.”

It's always been that simple for Brown. Still, his streak could get complicated.