Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, who leads the National Football League in receptions, said today Coach Mike Tomlin made the right decision benching him for the final series Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Brown said he was benched because a miscommunication between him and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger resulted in an interception that led to the Patriots final touchdown in a 55-31 Steelers loss.
Tomlin said at his weekly news conference Tuesday he benched Brown because the fourth-year wide receiver didn’t provide “quality execution from an assignment standpoint” on the play.
“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.”
Brown blamed his lack of execution on frustration created when the Steelers were outscored by the Patriots, 31-7, after tying the game at 24-24 in the third quarter.
It was the second time this season Brown’s frustration has created a problem with the coaching staff. During 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," Brown said. "There’s nothing fun about losing. 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: email@example.com. Twitter: @gerrydulac.