Brown sets all-purpose yards record

It was a record that stood since 1992, which meant something to Antonio Brown. And it was a Pittsburgh Steelers' record, which meant everything to the franchise's newly-anointed, all-time leader in single-season all-purpose yards.

"It's prestigious," Brown said after amassing 77 all-purpose yards in the Steelers' 27-0 Christmas Eve victory over the St. Louis Rams, an output that ran Brown's 2011 total to 2,048. "I play for one of the greatest organizations. To have something like that, it's special.

"I'm just thankful."

Brown totaled 8 yards rushing, 34 receiving, 5 on punt returns and 30 on kickoff returns against the Rams.

He had reported to Heinz Field with 984 receiving yards and was fixated on pushing that total into four figures to the extent that he was unaware running back Barry Foster's mark of 2,034 all-purpose yards in 1992 was within striking distance.

"I had no idea," Brown said. "I knew I was close to 1,000 yards receiving. That's what I was kind of thinking about."

Brown pushed his receiving yards total to 1,018.

His day also included a couple of tackles, one after an interception thrown by fill-in quarterback Charlie Batch, and one when the Rams tried a fake punt on fourth-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 44-yard line with 13:30 left in the second quarter and the Steelers leading, 3-0.

Special teams coordinator Al Everest said the Steelers were aware something might be up at that juncture and had all four eligible receivers either covered or sealed off due to the nature of the punt return they were running.

Punter Donnie Jones eventually took off running once he determined there was nowhere to throw the ball.

Brown blasted him 1-yard shy of the first down.

"I was about 35, 40 yards deep," Brown recalled. "I saw at the snap of the ball he kind of hugged the ball like he was throwing a pass, so I hurried down to make a stop."

Added Everest: "That's (Brown's) guy. Fortunately for us, Antonio read it, came up quickly and made the tackle. (Jones) took off running and Antonio made a great play.

"It was a good tackle. He's a good football player."

This season Brown has become an explosive football player as well. After reporting to training camp as "a highly conditioned athlete," according to Coach Mike Tomlin, Brown has spent this season realizing more of the potential he flashed as a rookie, and he has earned enough trust from the coaching staff to have started three of the last six games.

Brown didn't start against the Rams, as the Steelers opened with three tight ends, running back Rashard Mendenhall and Hines Ward at wide receiver. But Brown was able to do enough upon entering the game to continuing earning the respect and admiration of veterans such as Ward, as well as set the franchise record for all-purpose yards.

"Just phenomenal considering where the kid came from," Ward said of Brown, a No. 6b draft pick (195th overall) from Central Michigan in 2011. "When he touches the ball special things always happen.

"I haven't seen somebody with such big-play capability since (wide receiver Antwaan) Randle El. Every time on punt return I stand up because it could be the one. Hopefully, (Brown) will continue to gain confidence and make a name for himself in the postseason."

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