The waiting game

Through 53 minutes in Cincinnati, wide receiver Antonio Brown had been targeted four times, caught three passes and amassed a grand total of 26 yards receiving.

In the final seven minutes against the Bengals, all of that changed.

And in the final seconds, so did the game.

Brown's final two catches produced a 48-yard gain on what became a drive that produced a field goal for a 20-14 lead with 3:32 left in the fourth quarter, and a 31-yard catch-and-run touchdown that wiped out a one-point deficit with 10 seconds left in regulation of what ultimately became a 28-20 victory.

What the Steelers saw from Brown in between was patience.

There were no heated sideline exchanges, no assaults on Gatorade containers or other obvious bouts with frustration.

Just a player biding his time until it became his time.

"That's how it is," Brown explained. "They're going to be rolling two people my way the whole game. But I know as the game goes on there are going to be opportunities.

"It's all about being positive, staying poised, trusting in your belief, letting the game come to you. In the clutch moment I knew I was going to have an opportunity to make a play."

Brown was asked if he's growing in that regard.

"It's my job," he said.

It hasn't always been a job requirement Brown has been comfortable with in recent seasons.

But wide receivers coach Darryl Drake sees progress, production and, perhaps most significantly, a growing patience being displayed by Brown.

"It's a process," Drake said. "I've never had a great one that (didn't) struggle with patience. We all struggle with patience. I want my cake and my pie and be able to eat 'em both at the same time. But at the same time, I understand you have to be patient in certain situations. He understands that and he's getting better and better with that.

"Every play is a new adventure. Every situation is a new adventure. Sometimes, it may come your way and sometimes it may not. Those times that it does come your way, that's when you have to be ready to deliver."

Brown was targeted a season-low six times against the Bengals, but he finished with a season-high 105 yards receiving (his second consecutive 100-yard game and second of the season) and caught his team-leading sixth touchdown pass (wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is second with two).

"Guys like Antonio and all receivers that I want to coach, I want them to want the ball in certain situations," Drake explained. "But at the same time, it is a patient game. You have to be patient. You have to let things come to you.

"Most guys when they're out there they want it, they relish that moment but the game is a methodical game. You have to have patience and its hard, but you gotta persevere."

That's a message Brown has heard repeatedly this season, from Drake and from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

After beating Cincinnati, Brown maintained the message is being received.

"It's been a patient game for me all year," he said. "Ben's told me all the time, just stay with him. And I know if I stay with him there are going to be opportunities."