HOUSTON (Reuters) - Antonio Brown knows what it’s like to face the New England Patriots defense, and said the Atlanta Falcons must rely on their supporting cast to keep up with the AFC champions in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ perennial Pro Bowl receiver was on the losing end of a 36-17 scoreline in the AFC title game in Foxborough, held to seven catches for 77 yards.
“(Patriots coach) Bill Belichick does a great job of putting those guys in position, taking away what the other team does best,” Brown told Reuters on Thursday while promoting Visa’s futuristic payment ring.
“Going against great teams like that, you’ve got to be able to have a game plan to have your other players in things that you know is going to work, because those guys are really equipped for big games.”
Speaking from personal experience, Brown said Atlanta’s All Pro receiver Julio Jones may feel frustrated on the NRG Stadium field in Houston. “Julio Jones is going to get double teamed the whole game,” he said.
That could open things up for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to find other targets including receivers Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel, and pass-catching running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
“Matt Ryan does a great job of throwing the ball,” said Brown. “No quarterback within the 20 to 25 yard range is throwing the ball any better than Matt Ryan.”
Ryan has also spread the ball around with assurance, tossing touchdown passes to a record 13 different players this season.
But Brown believes quarterback Tom Brady will put up points on the Falcons and Ryan will have to keep pace and avoid mistakes.
“If the Falcons can’t match the intensity of the Patriots in scoring and turn the ball over, they won’t win,” he said. “They got to be on point.”
Brown showed his frustration with the coverage applied to him by the Patriots, yet felt he could have contributed more.
“You want more,” he said about being targeted more frequently “It’s never ending. You want more.”
“You want to win,” he said. “It’s a team game, but you’ve got to have individuals that really want the ball and want the pressure of being there to help get in a position to win.
“All great players want to be the reason the team wins.”
Editing by Frank Pingue