By Eric Goska
The Rams’ Tom Wilson and Bob Boyd were one of just
three duos to gain more yards at the expense of the Packers
than Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown did Sunday night.
Bob and weave. Thrust and parry. Slash and burn.
How ‘bout Bell and Brown?
Bell and Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers formed a memorable pairing Sunday night in Pittsburgh. The two took turns battering the Green Bay Packers’ defense, a one-two punch that never relented.
Powered by Brown and
Bell, the Steelers erupted for a season-high 462 yards as they outlasted Green Bay 31-28 at Heinz Field. Every yard was precious in a game that wasn’t decided until a last-second, 53-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.
In 2015, Brown ranked second in the league with 1,862 yards.
Bell wound up second in 2014 (2,215) and third in 2016 (1,884).
Both were at their best against the Packers. Both had plenty left in the fourth quarter.
Brown merely fielded passes: short ones, long ones, ones only an acrobat could secure. He caught 10 for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Together, the two produced 352 yards from scrimmage on 42 plays. That’s prime-time real estate valued at 8.4 yards per touch.
The Packers couldn’t keep pace.
Green Bay managed 307 yards on 54 snaps, an average of 5.7 yards per play.
Brown aspired to advancement. He had four catches of 20 or more yards, and each of his 10 catches brought a first down.
The two Steelers accounted for 76.2 percent of
Pittsburgh’s offensive output. They upped that percentage to 81.6 on the team’s five scoring drives.
So effective were the two that
Pittsburgh hardly missed JuJu Smith-Schuster. The rookie receiver sat out with a hamstring injury.
To be fair, the Packers are not alone in having been gashed by
Bell and Brown. These gifted athletes have prevailed upon others.
In a 27-20 win over the Bills last season,
Bell (298 yards) and Brown (78) carved out 376 yards. Two years earlier, they teamed for 352 yards in a 42-21 victory over the Bengals and combined for 351 in a 3-point loss to the Saints.
Similarly, the Packers have been gouged before. Tom Wilson and Bob Boyd of the Rams (367 yards) in 1956, Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew of the Lions (360) on New Year’s Day 2012, and Jim Spavital and Rip Collins (356) of the Colts in 1950 were three duos who did more damage than Brown and
Pittsburgh, Bell and Brown finished strong. The two accounted for all but seven of the Steelers’ 152 yards in the fourth quarter.
Brown caught four passes for 83 yards including a 33-yard grab that put
Pittsburgh up 28-21. Bell chipped in 62 yards on nine plays including an 11-yard dash that preceded Brown’s score.
When 17 seconds remained and the Steelers had the ball at their own 30-yard line, to whom did quarterback Ben Roethlisberger turn? Why Brown and
Bell, of course.
Roethlisberger fired passes of 23 and 14 yards to Brown. His final throw went to
Bell for minus-2 before Boswell stepped in for the winning kick.
The Buddy System
The eight instances in which two teammates combined for 340 or more scrimmage yards in a regular-season game against the Packers.
Yds. Name Yds. Name Yds. Team Date
367 Tom Wilson 228 Bob Boyd 139 Rams Dec. 16, 1956
360 Calvin Johnson 244 Brandon Pettigrew 116 Lions Jan. 1, 2012
356 Jim Spavital 253 Rip Collins 103 Colts Nov. 5, 1950
352 Le’Veon Bell 183 Antonio Brown 169 Steelers Nov. 26, 2017
347 Billy Sims 228 Dexter Bussey 119 Lions Sept. 14, 1980
346 Brian Westbrook 193 Terrell Owens 153 Eagles Dec. 5, 2004
345 Barry Sanders 198 Herman Moore 147 Lions Oct. 29, 1995341 Gene Roberts 253 Bill Swiacki 88 Giants Nov. 13, 1949