Antonio Brown Makes Strong Statement After First Touchdown With Bucs

Antonio Brown

Getty Antonio Brown catches his first touchdown as a Buccaneer.

After catching his first touchdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Atlanta, Antonio Brown quickly found the two people most influential in bringing him to Tampa.

First, Brown embraced Tom Brady moments after catching a 46-yard go-ahead touchdown from the 43-year-old quarterback during the 31-27 win over the Falcons. The recently-acquired wide receiver later ran over to the sidelines and embraced head coach Bruce Arians, a coach who once said he didn’t want Brown joining the team. After five relatively quiet games with the team, Brown kept it close to the vest when asked about what was said in the moments following his first score as Buc.

“I’m just grateful these guys believe in me, giving me the opportunity to come here and be part of the team,” Brown said of Brady and Arians during Sunday’s postgame press conference. “They were super excited for me.”

Brown also elected not to bust a move as he’s done in the past after catching touchdowns. Instead, he got down on his knees, spread his arms wide and got up to celebrate with his teammates and coaches.

“It’s been a long journey for me,” Brown said, via Sports Illustrated’s All Bucs. “Anytime I get that opportunity, (I’m) always grateful (and) thankful to God. As soon as I caught it, I went straight to my knees and called God and gave praise. (I’m) extremely grateful to be here with Tampa Bay and have the opportunity to live out my dream and play football —  it’s something I love to do.”

Brown’s Journey to Tampa Bay

When Brady signed with the Bucs in March, rumors of Brown coming along began to swirl. The duo played one game together in 2019 for the New England Patriots, before the team released Brown due to an NFL investigation of his personal conduct, per Sporting News’ Billy Heyen.

Brown’s history of off-field trouble led from stardom with the Pittsburgh Steelers to suspension without a team after brief stints with the then-Oakland Raiders and Patriots in 2019. His suspension spanned the first eight games of the season before the Bucs signed him as a free agent just before the suspension ended in late October. Brady took him under his wing, including giving him a place to live.

Brown considers Brady a “big brother,” something he told NFL Network’s Jane Slater after the Week 15 victory.

Rough Start to Brown’s Bucs Tenure

Things didn’t go smoothly after Brown joined the Bucs — missed throws, busted camera and all.

Brown caught passes early on, but Tampa Bay stumbled during a 1-3 stretch in his first four games with the team after its 6-2 start. It led one NFL reporter to claim Brown caused the Bucs to go south. The struggles coincided with Brady missing on deep throws, including a few to Brown.

No off-field antics surfaced during Brown’s first two months with the team other than an incident just before joining the Bucs made waves — leading to yet another NFL investigation. The 32-year-old broke a security camera at his luxury home complex, which the Bucs stated knowledge of before signing, according to USA Today’s Julio Vega.

A.B. Declares ‘Business as Usual’

Brown went almost 14 months without playing in an NFL game and 13 months without practicing for one. He said that didn’t make a big difference in returning to action, but rather that preparation is the key.

“Just business as usual,” Brown said postgame. “The game don’t change. It’s the players in it.”

Tampa Bay’s first half looked like business as usual in the wrong ways in Atlanta. The Bucs kept up their first-quarter woes and trailed 17-0 going into halftime. It all changed in the third quarter as Brady led five consecutive scoring drives, capped by Brown’s touchdown on a go-route.

“I get excited,” Brown said of running go-routes on Sunday. “There’s a chance the ball is coming to you. Just running to win.”

Amid the excitement, Brown noted the team still has a way to go to correct the slow starts.

“We’ve just got to come out and start fast,” Brown said. “Whatever it takes to get the win. Can’t make excuses. I think we can play better.”

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