Antonio Brown wanted a bigger role in the offense. Whether by design or by chance, he got it.
Six days after the Steelers' top receiver got in a sideline argument with offensive coordinator Todd Haley and pleaded for more passes, Brown had nine catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns Sunday -- all setting or matching career highs -- in a 40-23 loss to the Chicago Bears at Heinz Field.
Brown was targeted 13 times in the game. Emmanuel Sanders, who led the team in targets in each of the first two games, was second Sunday night with eight targets while Jerricho Cotchery and Heath Miller were thrown to four times.
"We knew they were in Cover-3, blitzing Ben [Roethlisberger], coming with Will and Sam [weak-side and strong-side linebackers], and that was able to present some one-on-one matchups," Brown said.
"We did some great things downfield. But we didn't win, so good things ain't good enough."
The only comparable game of Brown's career came Oct. 30, 2011, when he caught nine passes for 67 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets in a 25-17 victory against New England.
But even with what transpired in a Week 2 loss a week ago, Brown wouldn't say his performance was the result of a reformed game plan.
"I don't think so. I just think Ben did a good job finding [me]. The O-line gave him some good time," Brown said.
Receiver Markus Wheaton agreed.
"I wouldn't say that was the game plan, but the coverage leaned his way and he caught Ben's eye so he ended up with the numbers he had," Wheaton said. "Fortunately he made all the plays, all the balls that came his way."
But at least Brown didn't have to have words with Haley this week, right?
"Uh, not at all," Brown said with a chuckle.
Brown's second touchdown was the highlight of the game, a spectacular, one-handed grab in the back of the end zone that cut the Bears' lead to 27-20.
Starting the drive on their own 31, Roethlisberger hit Miller for 22 yards and Jerricho Cotchery for 26 on consecutive plays. Then, on the third play of the series, Roethlisberger lofted a pass to the left side of the end zone for Brown.
Brown extended his right arm and pulled the ball in, touching both feet down before Charles Tillman could push him out of the end zone.
"It was an amazing catch," Wheaton said. "That's a catch that everybody here expects him to make, he does it all the time in practice."
But Brown didn't want to talk about it.
"It don't mean nothing," he said. "I don't even wanna think about it."
Fair enough, as the team is in an 0-3 hole.
"We got to stay together," Brown said. "Nobody cares about our problems."Steelers
Nick Veronica: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @NickVeronica.