Ike Taylor Came Off Worse Live Than On Tape Versus The Ravens

By Matthew Marczi

Pittsburgh Steelers starting cornerback Ike Taylor has been under fire in recent weeks, and the bullets have been flying equally from the media and amateur critics as well as from opposing quarterbacks. He is being targeted at a rate never before seen in his career, which is why, like William Gay, some are starting to see what they want to see in his play, even if it might not be his fault when you look back at the tape and dissect what really occurred.

I have been as guilty of this as anybody. I was among those coming down on him early in the Baltimore Ravens game after the two big receptions by Torrey Smith on their first drive, but I’ve come to have a different take on his overall performance after going over the game again.

Before the big 54-yard completion, Taylor did a great job of making an open-field tackle on Smith the play before on a screen to hold him to a gain of four yards. He has had an unusually difficult time tackling on occasion this year, but he was solid on this play.

As you can hopefully tell from the clip above, safety Will Allen is running upfield in a vain attempt to catch up to Smith as he nearly streaks into the end zone. This is because he was caught peaking on a shallow route when his primary assignment seemed to be underneath coverage on Smith downfield.

Were it not for Cortez Allen being observant and abandoning his coverage to chase Smith down, he would have scored on that play rather than three plays later, on which Troy Polamalu was supposed to have underneath cover on Smith but instead chose to jump on Dallas Clark, who was already being double-teamed.

Of course it wasn’t always somebody else’s fault. On the Ravens’ second of two first-half scoring drives, he was penalized on third and seven for pass interference on Smith 26 yards down the field. The penalty yardage put the Ravens in field goal range, which they went on to kick.

Not before taking a shot into the end zone, however, which Taylor was there to break up. It was in fact the first of two big pass deflections that Taylor had in the end zone on passes targeted to Smith.

The Ravens went back at Taylor in the end zone on their first drive of the second half, but the result was the same. This one was perhaps even more impressive considering the ground he had to make up coming back to the ball.

There is no doubt that Taylor played a big role in keeping the Steelers in this game, so this week, give credit where it’s due. Even though he’s going through a rough season, the veteran came up big twice in this last game.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • DoctorNoah

    I thought it was a weak pass interference call, and Smith did a lot of pushing off as well all game. I think Ike is good, and Gay has done well, but our safeties always seem to be out of position. The 6 DB sets seem to keep Troy as a roving linebacker as opposed to a safety, and maybe that cuts down on the liability when he guesses wrong, but if you throw to a top receiver covered by Ike when he’s on an island and has no deep help, you’re going to get beaten eventually, and this has been happening all year. Something has to change. Maybe it means tighter man coverage and more conservative safety play.

  • Chris

    One of the biggest problems I see is Lebeau putting the defense in single high formation which has only 1 safety playing deep. In todays pass happy NFL this is what is going to happen. If Troy is going to play a hybrid DB/LB then another DB needs to be on the field to play a cover 2 defense of some sort. Clark and Will Allen do not have the range to play single high coverage.

  • elcid01

    Wow, that overhead view of the 54 yarder was interesting. Cortez (bottom of the screen at the start of the play) covered a lot of field very quickly to make that stop. Smart move to realize that his receiver was now Troy’s responsibility and to break off towards the deep ball.


    Cortez Allen has great speed. Lost in all the Tomlin talk is the fact that Cortez Allen made a great play.

  • 2443scott

    age and time caught up to taylor plus his hands of stone cant help him out where it does others when they age ….if steelers keep him and a few others that age caught up to will be interesting after season over

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Good stuff on Ike. More importantly, what the hell was Ryan Clark doing? Looks like Will Allen had to cover the deep cross and the FS has deep post responsibility…but he was helping Timmons double cover the late releasing RB.

  • cencalsteeler

    Taylor is one of those players who makes a few good plays and then gives up a few plays. After his two missed opportunities at clear interceptions, qbs and coaches took notice that this guy can’t catch. He is being targeted now more and for good reason. An opposing team can take a chance on a completion, a batted down ball, or a pass interference, with no risk for an interception. You now have an advantage with this matchup for you have 2/3s odds of a success rate. No wonder teams are focusing more on Ike, it’s a no-brainer!

  • joed32

    Everybody has known that Ike can’t catch for years.

  • Don

    check out closing speed of #28 on first video..he comes of his receiver and damn near gets to the ball..

  • Xclewsive

    The play of the Steelers safeties have left Ike Taylor in some very vulnerable positions all season. Clark, Allen and Polamalu have all left there deep responsibilities to jump underneath routes which has resulted in the Steelers giving up big huge passing plays. Ike isn’t the sure tackling CB he once was but his play in coverage has been pretty much the same. With better deep safety help from the players responsible for deep coverage he’ll fair allot better.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Ike has been targeted deep often and teams have had great success lately. Is it all his fault? No but he is also responsible. The fact is the last several weeks he has allowed many big plays and has been getting flagged often as well.

  • HiVul

    Even if Ike is having a bad year at some point the coaches have to realize this and adjust by providing more help. Single coverage is always high risk/high reward because it allows you to blitz, etc. but we shouldn’t roll the dice on single coverage if the odds aren’t in our favor. If we are that’s not entirely Ike’s fault.

  • CrazyTerry

    With Ike, you expect more because he doesn’t get INTs. So Ike needs to have more 3rd down pass deflections because on the early downs, QBs would be stupid not to throw Ike’s way as the worst thing that can happen is an incomplete pass. That could relax a QB enough to improve his throws throughoutthe game.

  • CrazyTerry

    When so many of our safeties keep making mistakes including veterans, shouldn’t the time come to blame Lebeau? After the Detrot first half, Tomlin said the D made no changes. But obviously , it was better drilled into the D’s heads to not try to be irresponsible in pass coverage and worry about their assignments first. The fact that they keep trying to do much and cheat on coverage tells me that they don’t trust the coaches on a subconscious level that sticking to their assignments work out.

  • CrazyTerry

    Yeah, but Ike was also a shutdown type corner in those years. So the risk of an incomplete pass was at such a high level, his lack of INTs was not a big enough benefit for them.

  • clifford symonds

    Ike Taylor is a very good player who has been having a good year. I don’t understand why people are on his case, or willie gay for that matter. You have to watch the rest of the League. The refs always side with the receivers,they don’t call holding on OL anymore, and the middle of the field has been castrated by the NFL. Points are at an all-time high right now. Defenses are being made to defend drives that are constantly extended by ticky-tack holding calls,bs roughing calls, and the offenses know it.I wish Ike would catch some of his picks,but he’d probably be on another team if that was the case. I have a lot of respect for our safeties. They have brought years of great play and passion to the Steelers,but they( even acknowledging what I said before about the passing game now) have more to do with the big plays that have gone on in the passing gm. You can’t have a solid Pass Def if you have people leaving chunks of the field open when their teammates are counting on them being there, esp. when you can’t get to the QBS in time spells trouble for any guy,short of Jesus Christ. It’s just really easy to blame the guy you see in the frame but it’s a team concept when all is said and done.

  • Steve

    Clark has got lost in so many games. His head is not in the game anymore.

  • greeny

    He got beat by Brandon Stokley……need I say more. That does not warrant 8 million dollars a year. Lewis would have been much better at half the price tag.

  • sean mcmartin

    sad but true. Clark was good at hitting receivers and delivered some good shots. The rules have taken away half his game and now he seems to be a step slower.
    would have been nice to win a ring for these aging gladiators.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    I just keep watching and watching that play and whatever it is that ryan clark is doing is unacceptable. Was he blitzing and timing the snap count from 15 yards deep? More than likely just free-lancing, leaving the Steelers a man short in the secondary, making Ike look like an ass when his totally super-soft coverage indicates he has safety help over the middle. NOT! Would have loved to be in film room hearing folks yell at each other disecting that play. Lebeau and or Clark have got a lot of blame to accept.

  • Ahmad

    Ike may have regressed a bit this year but he can’t take all the blame as the safety help has been sorely lacking for some reason.