Wide receiver Antonio Brown (concussion) was ruled out Friday, the Steelers announced. Brown had 119 receiving yards off seven receptions against the Bengals in a manic wild-card game. The hit that caused Brown's concussion by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict helped set Pittsburgh up with the chance to kick a winning field goal.
Brown was, once again, the best receiver in football this season. He finished with 136 catches for 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns, despite the fact that Ben Roethlisberger was out with injuries for chunks of the year.
The news is obviously a huge blow to the Steelers' chances, even if Roethlisberger's wounded shoulder allows him to do more than expected. Martavis Bryant, another member of Pittsburgh's talented receiving corps, caught five passes and scored on a circus-style touchdown against the Bengals.
Brown torched the Broncos during their previous meeting this season back in late December. Brown's 18 targets, 16 catches, 189 yards and two touchdowns made up the best performance Denver yielded to a receiver this year. It was not an uncommon story for his opponents, though. Brown's balletic movement and field vision are second to none, and while the cause of his concussion was embroiled in controversy, there is no debate about its long-term impact for Pittsburgh.
Bengals cornerback Adam Jones recently accused Brown of faking his head injury -- a dangerous charge considering the current state of affairs in football. Jones claimed that Brown winked at him as he left the field, but Jones issued an apology to Brown on Instagram on Friday.