Antonio Brown is emerging as one of the top receivers in NFL
“We got to ride it together,” said Antonio Brown, were the words spoken from his wounded quarterback Ben Roethlisberger upon returning during the second half to command the huddle and eventually lead the Pittsburgh Steelers past the Cleveland Browns 14-3 at Heinz Field Thursday night.
On a night where most of the second quarter revolved around swirling rumors on the status of the franchise quarterback's ankle, going so far as to hearing that Roethlisberger was taken from the stadium, all turned out false when No. 7 returned after halftime.
“He’s a warrior and I’m honored just to line up with him,” said first-year Steelers receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who scored on an 11-yard pass from Big Ben in the first quarter, one of Roethlisberger’s two touchdowns on the night.
"If feels pretty good," said Roethlisberger, "At least it takes the pain off my thumb," which has been injured as well in the 2011 season. "I thought my leg was broken. It was one of the most painful things I've ever felt," he said, yet Roethlisberger, like always, showed his durability and returned.
What at first looked to be the derailing of the Steelers' season with Roethlisberger hobbling off of a golf cart in the confines of Heinz Field, the television gave the illusion that this was going to be the end of Roethlisberger’s night.
With his selfless act, the veteran quarterback of eight years might have ignited the Steelers to feel invincible heading down the stretch at 10-3 with three games remaining. Time after time he comes back, battered and beaten, leading defensive end Cam Heyward to say in some awe, “Starting to become accustomed to expect it.”
The Steelers were fortunate to escape with the win after three turnovers and penalties that kept the Browns in the hunt, not to mention the ankle of No. 7. But Roethlisberger managed to keep his team ahead and finally connected with emerging star Antonio Brown for the game's final score that netted 79 yards, pushing the Steelers ahead 14-3 with 2:52 left to play and sealing the victory.
We are all familiar with the Marx Brothers, most notably Groucho and his family of entertaining brothers during the 1900s until close into the 1950s. Although, as a connoisseur of football and not early motion pictures when I hear the name Marx Brothers, I don’t think of Groucho and comedy acts, I think of the duo of Mark Clayton and Mark Duper from the Miami Dolphins, who played with Hall-of-Fame quarterback Dan Marino in Miami.
Nor do I recall little blue people living in the forest when I hear "Smurfs." The very first thing that pops in my head is the Washington Redskins' trio of receivers Gary Clark, Alvin Garrett and Charlie Brown, who earned the nickname "The Smurfs" in the mid-'80s.
During the late 1980s and early '90s we enjoyed watching the "Three Amigos" Mark Johnson, Vance Johnson and Ricky Nattiel of the Denver Broncos, who rode the wave of Super Bowl trips led by No. 7 John Elway. Laughing to myself, it didn’t even take a wiki page to remember the cast of the Broncos' Three Amigos, but I did have to reference some history notes to remember the cast in the movie Three Amigos. Takes style and some pizzazz to bring a nickname to the forefront.
The other nicknamed groups mentioned in this piece had quality quarterbacks and played on successful football teams and were simply pretty special in their own right to garner the attention of having nicknames. So the lineal effect from past to present seemed legitimate enough to earn the Steelers' young receiving core a nickname.
Receiver Emmanuel Sanders said, “We call ourselves the Young Money Crew, me (Emmanuel Sanders), AB (Antonio Brown) and Mike Wallace. I’m Easy Money, Mike is Fast Money and AB is Quick Money.”
Just like the words were spoken, the performances of the three continue to rise. Grab those cells phones and start the Twitter trending “Young Money Crew.” It’s trendy and current with the times—it’s the Young Money Crew.
Antonio Brown said, “Ben is tough money; he is very impressive,” grinning from ear to ear, showing the appreciation for his quarterback and what dimension he brings to the Steelers offense. Brown continued, “The more I’m on the same page with Ben and know my spots” is allowing him to quickly catch Mike Wallace for the team lead in yards.
Vendors, crank up those printing presses, fans get those Sharpies working on those poster boards, it’s time to put the Young Money Crew on the map. The trio, along with the veteran presence of Hines Ward—who they called “Old Money”—isn’t what your father’s father was accustomed to seeing with Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier churning it out for five yards in a cloud of dust.
The NFL has taken to the skies, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are as good as anyone; they just don’t seem to fit the mold due to the rich history of smash-mouth football they are known for.
It will take the old tradition of smash-mouth offense and defense, adding in the finesse of the high-octane passing, if they want to ride out the regular-season's final three games in victorious fashion.
Bo Marchionte is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.