Steelers looking for more in the passing game against Chargers
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The catch was difficult. Well, difficult for most receivers not named Antonio Brown.
If the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro is being honest, he's still kind of stunned he let a potential touchdown pass from Michael Vick get away in last Thursday's 23-20 overtime loss to Baltimore.
Sure, Vick's pass was a little late. And yes, Brown had to drop to the ground in an attempt to come up with it.
Still, the pass hit both of his hands. For Brown, that's one more than he sometimes requires to come down with the ball.
A minor chance at redemption came in overtime. Facing fourth-and-1 at the edge of field goal range, the Steelers opted to go for it.
Rather than try and run it with Le'Veon Bell, Vick dropped back, moved to his left and threw across the field to Brown. The pass sailed high, the Ravens took over and went down to win the game.
Vick said the mistake will haunt him until next Monday's game at San Diego. The same goes for Brown, who like the rest of the receiving group is trying to adjust to Vick while Ben Roethlisberger rehabs from a sprained left knee.
"I thought I was wide open," Brown said. "Mike's a left-handed quarterback and we ran the route to the right. I've got to find a way to come down with that catch as well."
Brown finished with five receptions for 42 yards, ending his NFL record streak of games with at least five catches for 50 yards receiving at 35. Brown coveted the mark because it served as a hallmark of his consistency. He's eager to start another one on Monday night.
"Records are made to be broken," he said with a laugh.
While Vick managed to acquit himself pretty well considering he had all of one full day of practice to get ready for the Ravens -- completing 19 of 26 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown without an interception -- the Steelers (2-2) are hoping for a return of the patented "Vick Flick" against San Diego (2-2).
Vick averaged only 6.5 yards per completion, less than half of Roethlisberger's average of 13.6 before going down against the Rams.
Have more than a week to prepare should help Vick get more comfortable. So should the return of Martavis Bryant, who missed the first four games while serving a suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Bryant and Vick showed a spark during their brief time together in the preseason, with Vick's first pass as a Steeler hitting Bryant for a 63-yard gain against Buffalo.
"Everybody knows what (Bryant) brings to the table," wide receiver Markus Wheaton said. "It's a no-brainer."
Coach Mike Tomlin pointed to the need to develop a rapport with Vick necessary "to have the type of timing that's going to allow us to win in tough, combative situations like the ones that occurred at the end of the (Baltimore) game."
While Vick's arm remained under wraps, his legs can get it. He ran for 33 yards and seemed to relax midway through the second quarter when he decided to tuck and run on a couple of occasions to set up a score.
Though Vick is a decade removed from his prime, San Diego coach Mike McCoy remains respectful of Vick's singular talent. Perhaps that's because he saw so much of it while spending nearly a decade with the Carolina Panthers while Vick was a superstar in Atlanta.
"His playmaking ability hasn't changed," McCoy said. "The plays he would make in passing game and with his feet, you see the same thing on film (now)."
NOTES: Wheaton said he's optimistic the ankle injury he suffered against the Ravens won't keep him off the field against the Chargers. ... The Steelers have 14 sacks through four games, nearly half their total of 33 last season.