The Steelers collectively aren’t playing for much right now. Individually, the final two games provide some extra incentive.
For quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, ample motivation comes from the fact that he never has been part of a losing team at the high school, college, or pro level. A pair of victories to end the season will give Roethlisberger a second consecutive 8-8 finish.
For receiver Antonio Brown, the fourth-year receiver can set a pair of franchise records. As explained recently by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (and as mentioned in our one-liners), Brown needs only 92 receiving yards to surpass Yancey Thigpen’s mark of 1,398, set 16 years ago. With 95 receptions, Brown needs only 17 to catch Hines Ward’s high-water mark of 112.
Brown said Ward has encouraged the youngster to aim for Ward’s record.
“He was encouraging to let me know how close I am, let me know how many catches I need, always reminding me you have to have a goal,” Brown said. “Having a goal in this game when you play this game will always encourage you to be better. That’s what it’s about in the NFL.
“I think deep down he probably doesn’t want me to break it, but he’s always encouraging me to break it. We had a lot of great experiences together, and I’m sure he’s excited for me.”
Brown, who was named the team’s MVP in 2011, is having the best year of his career. And it’s clear that, with Mike Wallace gone and Emmanuel Sanders likely not far behind, Brown has become the successor to Ward as the long-term, go-to receiver for the Steelers.