Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown said coach Mike Tomlin didn't think he was giving his best effort on a play toward the end of a game Sunday in New England that resulted in an interception.
Tomlin benched Brown for the final series of the 55-31loss, and Brown said it was the right decision. Brown said he was benched because a miscommunication between him and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger resulted in the interception that led to the Patriots' final touchdown.
"Coach got me and Ben together [on the sideline] and talked about the execution of the play and what transpired," said Brown, who leads the league with 61 catches and is on pace to break Hines Ward's single-season receiving record (112). "From there, coach thought it was best I don't go back in the game for the last series, so he came to me and told me we're going to keep you out this series but just stay with me."
Brown added, "I can't afford to be in miscommunication with Ben. I can't afford to not have my depth and not be where I need to be. Being on this football team and being the No. 1 guy, I got to take responsibility to give the team my best, and Coach thought I wasn't giving my best. Coach made the right decision."
Tomlin said Tuesday he benched Brown because his fourth-year wide receiver didn't provide "quality execution from an assignment standpoint" on the play.
Brown blamed his lack of execution on frustration created when the Steelers were outscored by the Patriots, 31-7, after tying the score, 24-24, in the third quarter.
It was the second time this season Brown's frustration has created a problem with the coaching staff. In the Steelers' 20-10 loss in Cincinnati, Brown had a sideline confrontation with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, complaining that he wasn't getting the ball enough.
"We're 2-6 right now; there's nothing fun about losing," Brown said. "When you're losing, you're just a joke. People don't take you seriously. [They think] you stink, that we're not giving the best effort. That's what people don't want.
"No matter the circumstance, you got to play your heart out and give it all you got. Right now, when you're losing, everything is magnified. People can lose jobs, coaches, everyone. When you're in that situation, it's frustration."
Gerry Dulac: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @gerrydulac.