Steelers receiver Antonio Brown picks up a first down Sunday against the Browns.
By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Antonio Brown did something Sunday that had never been done before in NFL history. He became the first player to catch at least five passes and reach 50 yards receiving in every game in a season.
Laveranues Coles of the New York Jets had at least five receptions and 50 yards receiving in 19 consecutive games for the Jets, but he did that over the course of two seasons in 2002 and 2003.
"I was aware later in the year," Brown said of the record. "It's something special that I can say I've done. This league has been going on for a long time. I'm just thankful for the opportunity to have one of those resumes. It's something I appreciate tremendously."
Brown completed the regular season with nine receptions for 87 yards against the Browns. He finished the season with 110 receptions and a franchise-record 1,499 yards. He fell three receptions shy of the team record of 112 that Hines Ward set in 2002.
Bell sets record, too
Rookie running back Le'Veon Bell set the franchise rookie record for most yards from scrimmage in a season, breaking a 41-year-old record that was held by Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris.
After compiling 96 yards against the Browns (90 rushing and 6 receiving), Bell finished his first season with 1,259 yards. Harris had 1,235 yards from scrimmage in 1972.
Bell achieved the record in one fewer game than Harris. Bell missed the first three games of the season with a foot injury and dressed for only 13 games. Harris set the record when the NFL had a 14-game regular season.
"It's an honor to be even in the same category. Franco Harris is one of the greatest runners to ever come through here and being mentioned with him is a great accomplishment," Bell said. "Obviously, I can't do it all myself. It's a credit to the whole offense and the offensive line."
Ben falls short of record
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger needed 247 passing yards to set the team record for most passing yards in a season, but he finished 67 yards shy after throwing for 179 against the Browns.
Roethlisberger did set the single-season record for most completions in one season. He finished with 375.
He also finished with 28 touchdown passes, which is the second-most in team history. He holds the record with 32, set in 2007.
The long goodbye
Several longtime Steelers might have played their final game at Heinz Field. Veteran safety Ryan Clark and defensive end Brett Keisel, as well as receiver Emmanuel Sanders, are among the players who do not have contracts for next season, and they took the time to soak in the atmosphere before and after the victory against the Browns.
Clark gave away his game jersey and cleats to fans who stuck around until the game's end.
"I thought it would be cool to give someone my game jersey and cleats that I wore in the last game," Clark said. "I thought that would be a nice souvenir for the fans that did come out and support and stayed in the rain for a 7-8 football team that not a lot of people thought had a lot to play for."
Clark, who said he plans to play next season, has been with the Steelers since 2006.
"They gave me a chance twice," Clark said. "They gave me an opportunity to play. They gave me an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. Some of my best friends are here in Pittsburgh. There are people I will remember forever. It was a blessing and an honor to play for an organization like this. I hope to continue playing, but if not, there will be no hard feelings. I have nothing but great memories."
Keisel, who has been with the Steelers since 2002, took some time before the game to take in the view from the tunnel with his defensive line mates.
"I told the front, our guys in the D-line room, it's always different," Keisel said. "This will be the last time we get to stand together in that spot with this group of guys. The way the league is, it changes every year. You change no matter what. It was emotional there. I'm just proud to be a Steelers [player] and proud to have finished this thing strong."
Sanders, a third-round draft choice in 2010, also will be a free agent. He finished the season with 67 receptions for 740 yards and six touchdowns, but with Brown signed to a lucrative long-term deal, there likely is not room for another high-priced receiver on the roster.
"How can you not think about it?" Sanders said. "At the end of the day, I am a free agent. Who knows what might occur? Of course I want to be here. My heart is here. This is the team that drafted me. All I know is Steelers football. I just pray everything works itself out and I'm still here."
The Browns swooned to a 5-11 finish and losing the final seven games cost rookie coach Rob Chudzinski his job.
Chudzinski was fired Sunday night after the Browns returned home to Cleveland.
The idea of yet another new head coach in 2014 did not sit well with Cleveland players after the game.
Browns veteran tackle Joe Thomas, who is on his fourth head coach since being drafted in the first round in 2007 by Cleveland, said firing a coach after one season does no good for an organization.
"This organization needs continuity," he said. "It's the once chance we have to turn this into a decent team. [Changing head coaches] sets everything back. You have to hit the reset button and that damages the organization."
Get out your pencils and start figuring out what the Steelers' record will be in 2014. The opponents and sites of the games have been determined. The only thing left to announce will be when the games will be played. That will happen in the spring.
Here is the home schedule: Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Houston, Kansas City, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tampa Bay.
The road schedule: Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Jets, Tennessee, Atlanta and Carolina.
The Steelers deactivated quarterback Landry Jones, linebackers Jason Worilds and Terence Garvin, cornerback Isaiah Green, defensive end Brian Arnfelt, offensive lineman David Snow and defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo.
The Browns deactivated quarterback Alex Tanney, cornerback Joe Haden, offensive linemen Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao, tight end Andre Smith and defensive linemen Phil Taylor and John Hughes.
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