The Steelers have a long line of successful wide receivers in past years. Here are the best Steelers wide-receiver seasons in each of the last two decades (based on receiving yards).
The 2000s Seasons
2002 Hines Ward: 1,329 yards, 112 receptions, 12 touchdowns
Hines Ward entered 2002 after making his first Pro Bowl in the prior season. He still had to compete for passes with Plaxico Burress and the rookie Antwaan Randle El. Ward didn’t quite have a superstar start to the season by only reaching above 100 receiving yards once. But during a three game stretch, Ward reached above 100 receiving yards in each game. He had an underwhelming end of season but still did well by most standards. He went to the Pro Bowl in two more seasons and still remains out of the Hall of Fame.
The 2010s Seasons
2015 Antonio Brown: 1,834 yards, 136 receptions, 10 touchdowns
Antonio Brown was at the peak of his career in 2015. For the fourth straight year, AB’s receiving yards and receptions increased every year. AB racked up 436 receiving yards in his first three games. In his next five games he slowed down some and only had 282 receiving yards. Antonio Brown got back on track with a huge game against the Raiders. In the Week 9 matchup, AB had 284 receiving yards on 17 receptions.
He didn’t let up too much as he had some big games towards the end of the season. Antonio Brown averaged over 100 receiving yards over their final seven games. In the final game at Cleveland, he closed out strong with 37.7 fantasy points. In the playoffs in Cincinnati, AB once again had over 100 receiving yards.
But the major hit from Vontaze Burfict in the waning minutes of the game caused AB to go down with an injury. He had to sit out for the Divisional round in Denver, which could’ve cost the Steelers the win. The early 2010s were filled with many playoff disappointments in many seasons. Antonio Brown’s 2015 efforts landed him only 37 yards shy of being the season receiving leader, which went to Julio Jones.
The Honorable Mention
2002 Plaxico Burress: 1,325 yards, 78 receptions, 7 touchdowns
It may have been by chance that the two best receiving yards seasons in the 2000s came within four yards of each other in the same year. That’s why Plaxico Burress deserves an Honorable Mention. Plax started out the 2002 season with some struggles by only having 164 receiving yards in the first four games. He broke out of those struggles by having 149 receiving yards in Week 5 against the Bengals. A few games later against the Falcons, Burress had a career-high 253 receiving yards with two touchdowns. Plax had some solid games to end out the season but couldn’t quite catch Hines Ward’s total.
Hines Ward and Antonio Brown were two receivers that became the faces of the franchise during their prime. Antonio Brown put up better numbers, but there were overall differences in the game in 2002 and 2015. AB also benefited from Big Ben as quarterback, while Hines Ward had Tommy Maddox.