The Pittsburgh Steelers cruised to a big division victory Sunday, manhandling the Ravens on the road 26-9 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
For Pittsburgh it was the perfect game: go on the road in a division game and manhandle your biggest rival by running Le'Veon Bell down their throats and exerting your dominance on offense while snuffing out Joe Flacco (sub five yards per passing attempt, an admission that he "sucked").
Except not everyone was happy. Star receiver Antonio Brown, in fact, was very unhappy. And he let his team know it, by on poor, innocent Gatorade coolers.
Brown was mad that on a play where he was wide open, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not even bother to look in his direction. Roethlisberger, for his part, told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, a CBS Sports Radio affiliate, that he believes Brown's "temper tantrum" is a "distraction" team does not need.
Big Ben was primarily confused that Brown flipped out because it wasn't something that happened "intentionally."
"He got upset because he was open, which I can understand, sometimes that happens," Roethlisberger said. "It's not like I intentionally missed him, it's not like I intentionally didn't throw it to him. I was doing what my reads tell me to do, I don't even want to say I made a mistake, because I was reading the side I was supposed to read. It's just unfortunate that it happened, and it's unfortunate that he acted and reacted that way."
The issue with Brown's behavior isn't that he's mad about not getting thrown to -- the issue is that he's opening up the team to tons of criticism about the relationship between the quarterback and the wideout during a game in which they handily won against the Ravens.
Roethlisberger rightly believes he could have handled it differently.
"I told him on the sideline, 'A.B., just come talk to me, ask me what happened, tell me that you were open.' You know, if that were Heath Miller, I'd probably ask Heath on the sideline, 'Hey Heath, were you open?' and he'd probably tell me 'No,' because he wouldn't want you to feel bad, that's just who he was … that goes a lot further than throwing a temper tantrum," Roethlisberger said.
The problem isn't making Brown happy. It's how the rest of the team reacts to Brown's behavior. For instance, as Roethlisberger notes, how does rookie wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster take the tantrum and process it as a young guy in this league? Once he arrives as a stud receiver he can just flip out on the sideline? Plus, it apparently "messes" with the Steelers mindset.
"We all try to talk to him and it didn't help. I think it's bad in the sense that we have a lot of young guys that see that too. JuJu sitting right next to him and looking at that, and what's JuJu thinking? Is he thinking that it's ok to act that way? I don't know," Roethlisberger said. "I don't know that he needs to react that way. He's super human on the football field and when that happens, it almost brings him back to being a mere mortal if you will, because it gets in his head and it just messes with all of us a little bit."
Ultimately what Roethlisberger believes is that Brown's tantrum "is causing a distraction that none of us really need." He's not wrong, and while a top-end receiver going full diva and creating headaches for his team is hardly anything new, it is not something the Steelers want to deal with, especially after all the chaos surrounding.
Brown is so talented that he can get away with basically whatever he wants on this roster, but it is quite clear the Steelers don't love the antics. Having said that, totally expect a greasy-wheel game out of Brown this week against the Jaguars.