PITTSBURGH -- When making his case as the game's best wide receiver, the Steelers' Antonio Brown looks beyond the stats. It's how he gets those stats. He's 5-foot-10, faces a heavy dose of safety help over the top and he still has 257 catches in his last 34 games, with at least five catches and 50 yards in each of those games, an NFL-record streak by a wide margin.
Last Thursday night's game at New England was no different, and could be telling entering the Week 2 matchup with San Francisco. Ben Roethlisberger said the 49ers do what the Patriots did last week -- keep two safeties deep, "daring you to run the ball."
Brown and Roethlisberger still connected nine times for 133 yards and a score.
DeAngelo Williams took advantage of that setup to rush for 127 yards and that could force at least one safety up, but if the 49ers stay in the two-high plan, Brown can do his damage underneath or by getting free with footwork and speed.
"You just have to find a way to make it happen," Roethlisberger said.
Left tackle Kelvin Beachum noticed the 49ers "held the point with their three guys" up front, meaning the back eight has more flexibility to roam and make plays. For the Steelers to have success Sunday, they need to win the matchup on the line and create rushing lanes for Williams.
And they need to clean up on scoring opportunities. Last week, the Steelers averaged 56 yards on their first six drives, yet scored one touchdown during that span.
Brown is eager to help with that, which probably means another 5-50 performance. But he's not concerned with hitting that mark each week.
"I don’t tend to think about it," Brown told NFL Live's Trey Wingo this week. "I just go out and try to execute the gameplan the best way possible...Run my routes and win matchups and let things fall into place.”
When he runs those routes, he will likely see two defenders, something he has come to expect.