By Matthew Marczi
Even though Ike Taylor has not surrendered a touchdown yet during the 2013 season, the veteran cornerback is not having one of his most consistent seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Through seven games, he has surrendered 30 receptions on 46 targets, or nearly two-thirds of the time he is targeted.
This past week, Taylor was targeted seven times by Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and, as with much of the season, the results were a mixed bag. On the day, he gave up four receptions for a total of 54 yards. He deflected one of those passes, but three of those receptions were good for third-down conversions.
The first of those receptions came on the Raiders’ third drive of the first quarter. On third and ten, Taylor lined up across from wide receiver Denarius Moore.
Taylor was in tight coverage on the line, but Moore beat him quite readily on an inside move and quickly gained separation, which allowed Pryor to find him for a 14-yard gain. The fact that Moore ran the exact same route on the play earlier, with Taylor in the same coverage, adds a bit to the frustration.
Early in the second quarter, the Raiders were facing third and six on their own 25 when they threw a bunch formation at the secondary.
Rod Streater was the inside receiver along the line, and despite Troy Polamalu blitzing and flushing the quarterback out of the pocket, Streater’s comeback route in front of Taylor gave Pryor an outlet to convert the first down.
Later in the game, there was a sequence widely commented upon in which Taylor gave up another reception on a long third down to Denarius Moore, but he followed it up on the next play by dropping Pryor for a loss behind the line of scrimmage on a carry. That was not the only time that he bottled Pryor up, however.
Midway through the third quarter, Pryor attempted to run with the ball, but Taylor was on it right away, and he was able to trip him up after just a short gain to set up third and long, in which he also had a hand.
This was a much more preferable sequence of plays for Taylor than the one previously mentioned. His coverage here is tight, and he reads the receiver to know when to turn around. It was perhaps the highlight of his up-and-down evening.