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Pettine: Even without Big Ben, Steelers still chock full of offensive firepower

A smile came over Mike Pettine's face when he was asked how a wide receiver such as Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown can put up such monster numbers against an NFL defense.

Even as he joked, there was nothing but respect for the top playmaker in the Steelers passing game who is coming off the best game of his six-year career.

"Hopefully he's a little worn out, a little dehydrated from last week," Pettine said at his Wednesday press conference. "He's a special player."

As Brown showed last week against the Raiders, it mattered little who threw him the ball, and the Browns aren't banking on any sort of drop off Sunday at Heinz Field if Pro Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can't play.

Brown caught 17 passes for 284 yards and added 22 yards on the ground in the Steelers' 38-35 victory. Though the majority of his receptions came with Roethlisberger under center, Brown's second-longest was on a short throw from backup Landry Jones, who connected with him on a 59-yard pass that set up the Steelers' game-winning field goal.

In Jones' start earlier this season, Brown had six catches for 124 yards in a Pittsburgh loss to Kansas City.

Like the Browns, the Steelers have yet to name a starting quarterback for Sunday's game. Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday the door was "slightly ajar" for Roethlisberger to make a quick enough of a recovery from a foot injury to start against the Browns.

Both the Browns and Steelers have a bye next week. If Jones starts, it'll be his second of the year and fourth overall appearance.

"Landry Jones has done a good job for them when he's played," Pettine said. "He's not as mobile as Ben. I don't think he fends off the rush as well as Ben. I don't know if anyone in the league can do that. If you give him a clean pocket, if you give him time, he can make throws. They have playmakers. A lot of his throws don't have to be far down the field for them to be successful."

Pettine cited the Steelers' productive running game, which hasn't slowed since Le'Veon Bell's season-ending injury, as a reason why the Browns can't bank on a less potent Pittsburgh offense.

Veteran DeAngelo Williams ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders. The Steelers are No. 1 in the NFL in rushing offense, as Bell and Williams have led an attack that averages 133.4 yards per game and 5.1 yards per attempt.

"I'm sure their plan will be built around that knowing what he is in comparison to Ben," Pettine said. "He's certainly capable if you allow him to be."

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