PITTSBURGH — Invoice Belichick summarized precisely why groups wouldn’t need to see the Pittsburgh Steelers within the playoffs, ought to they make it.

“You’re not going to get anyone higher than these two guys [Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster], plus the quarterback [Ben Roethlisberger],” Belichick mentioned two weeks in the past because the New England Patriots ready for Pittsburgh’s offense. “They’ve numerous different guys, too, however these two receivers are elite. Elite, elite.”

Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster have made life tough for opposing defenses in 2018. Keith Srakocic/AP Picture

However whereas Belichick prepares his Patriots for what appears like one more first-spherical playoff bye, the Steelers are losers of 4 of 5 video games, with shaky playoff prospects regardless of fielding a receiving duo for the ages.

Smith-Schuster (106 catches for 1,389 yards) and Brown (104 catches for 1,297 yards) have develop into the NFL’s fifth teammate mixture to have 100 catches and 1,200 receiving yards in the identical season, and they nonetheless have a sport to play.

A monster finale towards the Cincinnati Bengals will get them nearer to the 1995 Detroit Lions tandem of Herman Moore and Brett Perriman, who mixed for 231 catches for three,174 yards. The final pair to hit the 100-1,200 membership was Denver’s Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2014.

None of those duos made a Tremendous Bowl in these seasons, nevertheless it’s spectacular nonetheless. John Stallworth and Lynn Swann will eternally stay in Steelers folklore for his or her Tremendous Bowl pedigree at receiver, however the Smith-Schuster/Brown combo may combat for franchise-duo supremacy soon sufficient.

Brown and Smith-Schuster accounted for 300 of Steelers’ 380 receiving yards (78.9 p.c) and 64.5 p.c of the workforce’s general offense in a 31-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Principally, the Steelers can go 75 p.c of the time whereas primarily concentrating on two gamers and get the offense they need.

For the season, the duo has 324 targets, greater than 50 p.c of the Steelers’ passing sport.

The 2 are producing so persistently that defenses are having a tougher time maintaining, tight finish Vance McDonald mentioned.

“Late within the season, it is actually exhausting for groups to handle placing two guys on AB and maintain the extent of competitors defending guys one-on-one,” McDonald mentioned. “Undoubtedly on this final sport, we felt with our assault they did not have the weapons to sustain with us in 5-vast.”

All this coincides with Roethlisberger’s greatest season statistically. In his 15th season, Roethlisberger leads the NFL in completions (421) and passing yards (four,842). His 33 landing passes are a profession excessive and a single-season franchise file.

With out Le’Veon Bell for the season and James Conner the previous three video games, the Steelers have expanded their passing-sport versatility, and teammates assume that assault would result in severe injury within the playoffs.

Season Group Receiver duo
2018 Steelers Smith-Schuster (106-1,389) and Brown (104-1,297)
2014 Broncos Demaryius Thomas (111-1,619) and Emmanuel Sanders (101-1,404)
2005 Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald (103-1,409) and Anquan Boldin (102-1,402)
2000 Broncos Rod Smith (100-1,602) and Ed McCaffrey (101-1,317)
1995 Lions Herman Moore (123-1,686) and Brett Perriman (108-1,488)

“We delight ourselves on having a very good offense,” guard David DeCastro mentioned. “This workforce is enjoying fairly nicely. We’re simply discovering methods to lose video games which are actually shut.”

The Steelers have the league’s fourth-ranked complete offense and not using a constant No. three receiver. McDonald is clearly the third possibility with 47 catches, 571 yards and 4 touchdowns, however McDonald says the Steelers have not tapped into their full potential due to a rookie.

“If James Washington realizes how good he could be, will probably be even tougher [for defenses],” mentioned McDonald, who provides that Washington’s expertise is plain however that he wants to play extra confidently. The second-spherical choose has 13 catches for 153 yards.

Till Washington catches up, the Steelers have arguably the perfect receiver in Brown and an rising top-10 man who Belichick says is legit in any offense.

“He’s a dynamic participant, large participant,” Belichick mentioned of Smith-Schuster. “Superb with the ball in his palms, nice palms. Makes some spectacular catches, exhausting to deal with. He’s excellent.”

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