The Steelers' frustrations with their 0-2 record erupted in at least one incident along the sideline in the second half of Monday night's game in Cincinnati.
There, wide receiver Antonio Brown confronted offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Brown angrily complained to the coach during the second half of the game that not enough passes were called for him, several sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Specifics of the argument were hard to come by, but sources say that Haley was upset by Brown's actions and that the two were still seething about it Tuesday. Brown's complaint to Haley was harsh enough and the reaction to it along the sideline volatile to the point that many people there noticed, although it was not shown nor apparently caught on camera by anyone, including ESPN, which broadcast the game.
Roethlisberger, other Steelers talk about 'getting better'
Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Clark and Jerricho Cotchery talk about the Steelers 0-2 start and the need to improve the offense. (Video by Lake Fong; 9/18/2013)
Brown was targeted three times in the first half when he caught two passes for 35 yards from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, according to the official statistics from the contest. He wound up being targeted with nine passes for the game, catching a team-high six for 57 yards with a long of 18.
Fellow starting wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders caught three of the four passes that came his way in the first half for 71 yards and finished with five receptions for 78 yards; he was targeted a team-high 10 passes in the game.
But it was Jerricho Cotchery, the No. 3 receiver, who was targeted most often in the first half. Roethlisberger sent five passes his way during the first two quarters, although none connected. Cotchery finished with three receptions for 59 yards and tied Brown with nine passes attempted to him.
Sanders also was targeted more often than Brown in the first game against Tennessee, with 12 passes recorded for him; he caught seven for 57 yards. Brown caught five of the seven passes attempted for him in the opener for a team-high 71 yards. In that game, Cotchery also had seven passes attempted for him; he caught four for 34 yards.
After two games, Sanders has been targeted a team-high 22 times, Brown and Cotchery 16 times each. Sanders leads the Steelers with 12 receptions for 135 yards and Brown a close second with 11 catches for 128 yards.
This is not the first time Brown has complained to coaches and teammates about not getting enough passes thrown his way. It happened last season as well, sources said, although not to the extent of the latest confrontation.
Brown, a sixth-round draft choice from Central Michigan in 2010, broke out in a big way in his second season when he became the first player in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards (1,108) and 1,000 return yards (1,062) in the same season. He set the team record with 2,211 all-purpose yards in 2011. His teammates voted him their MVP that season and he made the Pro Bowl as a returner.
When Mike Wallace turned down their offer for a multiple-year offer in 2012, the Steelers signed Brown to a reported six-year, $43 million contract at the start of training camp.
Brown's statistics dipped last season. His 66 receptions were only three off his total from 2011 but his 787 yards dropped his average from 16.1 per catch in 2011 to 11.9 last season.
Heath Miller led the Steelers last season with 71 receptions (for 816 yards) and Sanders led them with 836 yards (on 64 receptions).
Ed Bouchette: email@example.com. First Published September 18, 2013 2:15 PM