Allow me to get the obvious out of the way: Pittsburgh’s offense is scary good. If you cover Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant will beat you. If you cover Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton will beat you. If you cover all three receivers, DeAngelo Williams will beat you. If you put a safety into the box to stop DeAngelo Williams, Antonio Brown will have 118 yards receiving and two receiving touchdowns against you. Melding all of the aforementioned together, results in the Colts giving up thirty-nine unanswered points, and losing 45-10.
Colts fans, you should not feel bad, because I do not feel that there is a defense in the league that can stop the Steelers’ offense. The only times that the Steelers have been stymied is when Ben Roethlisberger was either injured or rusty (due to coming back from injury). Now that Big Ben is healthy, every defense in the NFL should be scared.
What is even more impressive about this Steelers victory is that the Colts started off the game with the lead, due to getting two turnovers in the first three minutes of the game.
Since we are on the topic of turnovers, Jacoby Jones should be cut as soon as possible. He was once a brilliant return-specialist, but he is currently a shadow of his former self. Every time I see him back there to return, I hold my breath in anticipation of him fumbling. Alas, on Sunday night, my worst fears came to fruition: Jones fumbled… twice.
Thankfully, Mike Tomlin benched Jones, and re-inserted Antonio Brown as the punt returner. The very second that I saw Brown back to return a punt, I trembled with excitement, because on any given return Brown can go the distance. My anticipation was rewarded late in the fourth quarter, when Brown returned a punt seventy-one yards for a touchdown.
After the play, my brother asked me if I was concerned about Antonio Brown getting injured on a punt return. Interestingly enough, for about three years now, I have heard Steelers fans express similar concerns about this very topic.
“We are putting the league’s best receiver in harm’s way.”
“Isn’t it dangerous for AB to return punts?”
“Tomlin needs to have someone else field punts.”
I am hear to assuage your fears, concerns, and preconceived misconceptions. First of all, if you need a reason to have AB return punts, look no further than the difference between his punt returns and Jacoby Jones’s returns. AB has the potential to turn every single punt return into six points. Every. Single. Time. That threat forces teams to devote practice time to stopping him. Plus, it is exciting to watch.
Secondly, and more importantly, a punt return is one of the safer plays in the NFL. On a kick-off, all eleven guys are running forty yards directly at the returner; so, yes, that dynamic is an injury waiting to happen. Conversely, on a punt, there are generally only two guys who get a “full” sprint at the returner: the gunners. The angle at which the gunners come at the returner is usually a forty-five degree angle, due to the blockers forcing them towards the sidelines; in other words, rarely does a gunner get a straight shot at the returner. And, in the event that the gunners are indeed too close, the returner may call for a “fair catch” (no contact at all).
Last but not least, statistically speaking, a player is more likely to get injured on a pass reception than on a punt. Really. In other words, Brown returning punts is no more dangerous than going deep against a secondary. Either way, receiving or returning, Brown is going to score touchdowns in droves. Right, Colts fans?