For now, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay will remain the starter opposite Ike Taylor and certainly deserves to be. Gay, who has long been the whipping boy for Steelers fans around the world, is currently ranked by Pro Football Focus as the 15th best cornerback in the league seven weeks into the season and if told that, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau likely wouldn’t be surprised.
“Willy Gay has been playing good for us ever since we’ve had him, going back to before we didn’t have him,” said LeBeau during his Thursday media session. “I don’t know how that came out but that’s not quite right. Before he left us and came back. I didn’t know Yogi Berra was talking. He’s playing well, playing consistently and he played well in the Baltimore game.”
In the Sunday win over the Baltimore Ravens, Gay, who has started the last two games over future starter Cortez Allen, registered three total tackles and allowed just three catches for 29 yards in the six times he targeted in the passing game. However, despite him registering two defensed passes in the game, Gay, whose self-anointed nickname is “Big Play Willie Gay”, almost gave up a big play touchdown to Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones with just over 11 minutes left in the third quarter.
“Come on now,” Gay said Thursday when Will Graves of the Associated Press suggested that it looked like Jones had a half-step on him on the play. “I was beat.”
Beat he was, but thanks to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco under throwing the football and Gay sticking with the play, it ended up just being a long incompletion and one pass defensed for the veteran cornerback.
The position that Gay plays is a very unforgiving one. Cornerbacks are bound to give up plays every now and again and in other words, the heat is always on them. Being as LeBeau referenced the great Yogi Berra on Thursday, there is a famous quote of his that probably best fits Gay and the position he plays as well as his attitude. “It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility,” Berra famously once said.
“We knew he was a good man,” LeBeau said when asked Thursday about Gay returning to the Steelers after his one season away playing from the Arizona Cardinals. “We were in the process of losing a cornerback and he definitely fit us. I was glad that Mike [Tomlin] brought him back.”
Steelers fans should be glad as well.