In 14 previous career games against the Ravens, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown had broken the 100-yard mark just twice and had never gone over 145 yards in a single game.
Brown ended that drought in spectacular fashion, gaining 213 yards on 11 receptions in the Steelers’ 39-38 win at Heinz Field on Sunday night. The total marked a season high for the five-time Pro Bowler and was his best performance since a 284-yard outing on Nov. 8, 2015.
But Brown’s numbers during the game against Ravens rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey weren’t as good. According to Pro Football Focus, Brown caught just two of five passes for seven yards when covered by Humphrey.
But in his weekly news conference on Monday afternoon, coach John Harbaugh said asking Humphrey to shadow Brown contradicts the defense’s philosophy.
“Yeah, there’s always a discussion like that, but that’s not our game plan,” Harbaugh said. “Then we got to basically lock into man coverage. Those are kinds of easy fixes from the outside perspective. We’re playing multiple defenses to try and keep them off balance, and it doesn’t really work when you start chasing a receiver all around the field. It exposes you.”
If assigning Humphrey to Brown was not an option, bracketing Brown with two players might have been. And Harbaugh acknowledged that.