John Brown's stats in his first Ravens-Steelers game at Heinz Field already say a lot. The Ravens' free-agent addition caught three passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.
But the impact that Brown had on the Ravens' 26-14 victory as a whole was even bigger than the stat line.
"It was a great experience just being out there and being able to go to war with a whole bunch of great guys that have been through this a lot," Brown said. "I was just ready to join in. Welcome to the party."
Brown caught a 33-yard touchdown to cap the Ravens' first offensive drive of the game, instantly putting the Ravens ahead. Lined up in the slot, Brown split a pair of Steelers defenders and was too fast for cornerback Joe Haden. Brown made a perfect catch just along the edge of the end zone.
"The defensive backs were late getting into their coverage, and once I got even with them, I had a feeling Joe Flacco was going to throw me the ball," Brown said. "It was a great ball."
He had a 71-yard catch and run near the start of the second quarter, which should have set up another touchdown. On that play, Brown was left one-on-one against Steelers rookie safety Terrell Edmunds, who also was left in the dust.
Ravens fans have been buzzing about Brown all offseason. He had a spectacular touchdown catch in Cincinnati on Thursday Night Football, and now added another, this time on Sunday Night Football against Baltimore's chief rival.
Asked about the impact that Brown's big plays have on the Ravens offense, quarterback Joe Flacco said "they do a lot."
"They give you confidence, they get you going," Flacco said. "They take out the aspect of going long and hard and having to get a lot of third downs to score touchdowns. When you can get chunks like that and get first downs on first and second down, it just makes your offense a lot more efficient."
The Steelers' secondary has been susceptible to big plays so far this season, and after Brown ripped off a couple in the first half, then nearly hauled in another touchdown catch on a deep bomb at the start of the second half, it changed the way Pittsburgh attacked.
The Ravens offense was 8-of-17 on third down throughout the night in part because the Steelers did not bring pressure on third down as they are known to do. A big part of that could have been because Pittsburgh didn't want to leave its defensive backs exposed.
With solid protection up front, Flacco carved up the short-to-intermediate Steelers defense in the second half, grinding out four field-goal drives and hitting 11 different receivers en route to 363 passing yards on the night.
"It does a lot of things that you don't even see," Flacco said of Brown's plays. "It keeps guys healthy. It goes a long way for sure."