By Mark Purdy
November 8, 2015
Antonio Brown catches a pass in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 38-35 win over the Raiders (Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH -- Charles Woodson, the Raiders safety and defensive captain, re-injured his right shoulder the second down of Sunday's game as he wrestled Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown out of bounds. Woodson missed one play, then gutted it out the rest of the afternoon with what he admitted was a "weak" shoulder.
Woodson wasn't covering Brown on every play during the Raiders' 38-35 loss. That job was largely assigned to the Raiders' cornerbacks, one on one. But often, Brown was double-teamed and still caught passes -- along with plenty of times when Brown evaded an initial tackle and Woodson was called upon to bring him down with only one good working shoulder and arm.
Woodson compensated with more diving body tackles or one-arm shoves out of bounds or left-arm bring-downs. This made for a painful day -- and a frustrating overall Raiders' defensive afternoon.
"I just aggravated the shoulder a little bit," Woodson said after the game. "It'll be all right. I don't know how to be hurt, to be honest with you. If I can get up and move around, I want to be on the field."
Should he have been?
"I think Charles is a real gladiator-type, a warrior-type," said Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. —He has fought his way through things like this in the past. If he feels he is able to play and the medical people think he can play and he wants to play, I trust him. You respect and appreciate that."
Brown definitely did not show respect for the Raiders' defensive backfield. He was targeted 23 times by Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his backup, Landry Jones, who came on in the fourth quarter after Roethlisberger injured his left foot.
"We were getting the looks that we practiced for," Brown said, "so it was a positive day. They were rushing the passer with their front four and stopping the run with eight guys in the box. And they were playing one-on-one on the perimeter. We knew if we were going to win today, we had to win big on the perimeter."
Brown definitely won big.
"We just didn't execute," said Raiders cornerback DJ Hayden about Brown's big day. "We've just got to play more sticky on him."
Sticky? The Raiders needed Super Glue.
"All I can say is, wow," Woodson said when he saw the offensive statistics for both the Steelers and Brown. "Take nothing away from Antonio. He is one of the most exciting players in the NFL and as a fan I enjoy watching him. But we had times when we had players on him and we just did not make the play. We were the weak link as far as our team was concerned. We know we can play much better."
None of Brown's receptions were touchdown catches. But he made the game's most clutch play in the final minute with a 57-yard reception, with most of those yards coming after the catch. Brown ran a shallow inside route that crisscrossed with teammate Markus Wheaton -- dangerously close to an illegal pick play -- and Raiders cornerback David Amerson got caught up in traffic as Brown sprinted toward open grass.
"They just did a simple slant, with a go on the inside," Amerson said. "I just did not make the play."
Naturally, Woodson wound up making the tackle by shoving Brown out of bounds -- except by then, he'd already reached the Raiders' 15-yard line. Three plays later, Chris Boswell kicked the Steelers' winning field goal.
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