Steelers' Antonio Brown continues insane streak, gives Patriots fits

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger nearly kept the Pittsburgh Steelers in the game all by themselves during Thursday night’s 28-21 loss to the New England Patriots.

New England simply couldn’t cover Brown, no matter who covered him.

It didn't take Brown long to extend his insane streak of at least five catches and 50 yards in 33 straight games, 34 including playoffs. He did that in the first half.

For context, the next closest receiver on that list is Laveranues Coles … with 19.

The Steelers played three wide receivers for most of the night -- Brown, Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Tight end Heath Miller got involved in the passing game too. But most the night, Brown was Roethlisberger’s primary target, and the Patriots knew it.

Didn't matter.

Brown said he saw "a little bit of everything" as far as coverages, crediting offensive coordinator Todd Haley for moving him all over the field.

With Martavis Bryant and Le'Veon Bell suspended, Brown produced with nine catches for 133 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown in the final seconds.

As expected, Brown rewarded fantasy drafters who picked him high.

Brown's streak is approaching mythical levels with which only DiMaggio is familiar. Brown is eager to push it through the 2015 season.

But Brown seemed more concerned about the Steelers' five trips into scoring range that resulted in two touchdowns.

Conversely, New England capitalized on every red-zone trip.

"We have to find a way to score, that's it," Brown said. "We have to find a way to put points on the board and change the outcome."

Roethlisberger’s connections with Brown, coupled with DeAngelo Williams’ 127-yard explosion on 21 carries, made a road upset palpable at times Thursday, despite the defense’s inability to cover Rob Gronkowski. The Steelers averaged 56 yards per drive on their first six possessions, yet came up with 14 points on those drives. The Steelers should have scored more.

Brown and Roethlisberger missed on a few plays. Roethlisberger threw a first-half dart to the sideline as Brown kept running straight. That would have been a big gain.

But Brown got Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler on a go route, cross route and a swift hesitation, backdoor move that left Butler wondering where he went. His first catch might have been his best, reaching around the cornerback to catch the ball with one hand for a short gain in the first quarter.

The rainy conditions were no problem for Brown, who looked slow only when playing quarterback. Brown got sacked on an ill-timed reverse play on the game's first drive. Brown held onto the ball too long.

Brown said he had to be smarter and throw the ball away. He wanted to scramble around to buy time for Williams to get open. "Take the loss there," he said.

Some weeks, against good quarterbacks, the Steelers will have to win with offense. The Steelers looked prepared to do that at times Thursday, but two missed field goals by Josh Scobee and a few stalled drives prevented that.

But Brown did his part.