Exuberant Brown delivers as Steelers beat Falcons

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by Will Graves
AP Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH (AP)—Antonio Brown’s youthful exuberance cost the Pittsburgh Steelers 15 yards on Saturday night.

If the second-year wideout keeps producing the way he did in a 34-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons, they can live with the growing pains.

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NEW FAN FAVORITE—Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) points to the cheering fans as he breaks away for a 77-yard touchdown during the second quarter. (Courier Photo/John Pablo Duran)

Brown continued his electrifying preseason, catching four passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns, serving notice Mike Wallace isn’t the only gamebreaker on the defending AFC champions.

“It’s just preseason and this game doesn’t count,” Brown said. “I’m doing some great things but it’s not the end of the world. You just want to continue to work hard and build and stay focused.”

Particularly when you’re running into the end zone. Brown drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting when he pointed the ball at a pair of defenders while finishing off a 77-yard catch and run for a score. The flag didn’t even include a somewhat awkward jaunt into the stands, where Brown appeared to briefly get caught on the fencing.

“I just got too excited,” Brown said. “I’ve got to calm down a little bit…I’ve got to be smart.”

The flag earned Brown a talking to from Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, and Brown toned it down—well, a little—on a 44-yard score late in the first half. This time he took a page from teammate and “Dancing With the Stars” champion Hines Ward, putting together a little jig to cap a nearly flawless half by Pittsburgh’s offensive starters.

“It was not a consistent, dominant performance that we were looking for, or winning by attrition, but we were explosive offensively,” Tomlin said. “We made key plays, game-changing plays defensively.”

Considered no higher than fourth on the depth chart when camp began, Brown has turned into a revelation while filling in for injured Emmanuel Sanders.

He started the game with a 51-yard kickoff return that led to a 1-yard plunge Rashard Mendenhall, a mere warmup to what was to come.

Facing third-and-6 from the Pittsburgh 23 early in the second quarter, Roethlisberger found Brown running down the seam at midfield. Brown split a pair of defenders and easily outran them to the end zone.

He struck again shortly before halftime, outjumping Atlanta’s Brent Grimes and Dominique Franks in the end zone to complete a 44-yard score.”

Meanwhile Sanders is hoping to play Thursday against the Carolina Panthers after spending most of camp battling a stress fracture in his foot.

The outstanding preseason by Brown and the addition of former New York Jets wideout Jerricho Cotchery has suddenly made spots 3-5 very cloudy. Sanders is hoping to provide some clarity.

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