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Antonio Brown Catches Passes Like He’s Doctor Octopus, and He Saved the Steelers Against the Packers

His brilliant sideline grab helped set up Pittsburgh’s game-winning field goal, but it was far from his only highlight of the night

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire/USA Today

Please watch this catch.

It’s possible that “Antonio Brown” is a codename researchers gave to a cyborg that escaped a lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the Steelers’ offense is part of a massive cover-up. Brown, who finished with 10 catches on 12 targets for 169 yards, two touchdowns, and a two-point conversion, is one of only a few players in NFL history who can make that stat line look effortless. Fewer still have the skill to make that catch, which gave Pittsburgh the opportunity to kick a game-winning, walk-off field goal a few plays later to beat the Packers, 31-28, on Sunday night.

With the game tied at 28 with 1:20 to go, a potential game-winning drive from the heavy underdog Packers sputtered. Green Bay coughed the ball back to Pittsburgh at the Steelers’ 30-yard line with 17 seconds left. Ben Roethlisberger and Co. had to pick up about 35 yards to enter field goal range. Enter Brown’s silly catch, where he shows a level of body control closer to a character from The Matrix than a human being from real life.

So many amazing things happened on the play. There’s the razor-thin margin his first foot stayed inbounds by, which can be measured by blades of grass. Then there’s the toe drag, which looks instinctive and business-like even though dragging your toes while running is the opposite of how your brain wants you to use your feet. Then, as Cris Collinsworth pointed out on the broadcast, Brown manages to catch the ball and establish firm possession almost the exact instant he touches it. Running at what looks like full speed, Brown did all of these things at the exact same time.

After a lengthy review, which was presumably delayed because the refs had to put their eyeballs back in their sockets, the Steelers were at the Packers’ 47-yard line with 13 seconds to get into field goal range. Pittsburgh went right back to Brown, because, well, duh. He ran a flawless route for a 14-yard catch along the sideline to put kicker Chris Boswell in field goal range with nine seconds left. (Though Ben Roethlisberger actually lost 2 yards on the following play: a dump off to Le’Veon Bell.) Boswell, who had missed an extra point earlier in the game, knocked the winning 53-yard field goal through as time expired.

That catch deserves its own Wikipedia page, but Brown made plenty of other plays on Sunday night that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Imagine being so good at football that burning a corner and then effortlessly juking the safety looks easy.

This game wasn’t supposed to require these kinds of highlights from Brown for the Steelers to eke out the win. The Packers were 14-point underdogs for head coach Mike McCarthy’s homecoming to Pittsburgh. Yet the Steelers played down to their level of competition in what has increasingly become a problem for Mike Tomlin’s squad, whose résumé includes a loss to the Bears and heart-pounding, three-point wins over Cleveland and Indianapolis. The Steelers let the Packers hold the lead or stay within striking distance for most of the game, but Brown’s heroics almost single-handedly kept the offense chugging, just as they’ve done for years now.

With Sunday night’s win, the Steelers are tied with the Patriots for the best record in the AFC. There’s zero chance they’d be there if they didn’t have a Westworld host playing wideout.