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fordfixer
01-24-2009, 01:15 AM
Steelers need Taylor to slow Fitzgerald

By ALAN ROBINSON 10 hours ago

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/art ... wD95T190O0 (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jcPEDO5SPBKQpc_0nC1-FXNKOm8wD95T190O0)

PITTSBURGH (AP) Ike Taylor doesn't get much attention for being the Pittsburgh Steelers' primary defender against an opponent's top receiver. Sometimes that's good, because it means Taylor isn't getting beaten for many touchdown catches.

Taylor will go against the NFL's hottest receiver, Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona, in the Super Bowl, and he has two long weeks to think about it. Given Fitzgerald's outrageous postseason production, this appears to be a bad matchup for any cornerback.

"He has 419 yards in the postseason, and it isn't over with. He's breaking some of Jerry Rice's records," Taylor said. "From what he's displaying week in and week out, yeah, he's one of the best in the world."

Taylor isn't as recognizable as All-Pros James Harrison or Troy Polamalu in Pittsburgh's league-leading defense, but he played well enough to be a Pro Bowl alternate. He yielded only two touchdowns in coverage despite being matched against receivers such as Terrell Owens, Chad Ocho Cinco, Plaxico Burress, Andre Johnson, Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne, Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Santana Moss.

"Fitzgerald's going to be the talk of the Super Bowl, and that's going to be a key matchup," linebacker Larry Foote said. "If Ike can do a great job on him, our chances of winning increase."

Taylor is proud the Steelers easily led the NFL in pass defense, allowing an average of 22 yards per game fewer than any other team. He wonders why the secondary doesn't get as much attention as the rest of the defense.

"Regardless of what people don't want to say, the recognition that we don't get, we feel like we do a good job," Taylor said. "We're No. 1 in overall defense, No. 1 in pass defense, No. 2 in run defense, No. 1 in red zone defense. I really don't know who's been putting up those kind of numbers."

The Steelers permitted only three teams to throw for 200 yards, and none reached 300. Two were held below 100 yards.

"Other teams tend to get more pub than we do, but that comes with the territory," Taylor said. "But we do have a pretty decent secondary. They've got a great receiving corps, with the head man in Kurt (Warner), and this is going to be one of our toughest challenges."

Ask the Eagles, who watched Fitzgerald make nine catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns in the NFC championship game on Sunday. The former Pitt star has eight TD catches in his last five games and 11 in his last eight, plus five consecutive 100-yard games.

Bryant McFadden, Pittsburgh's other starting cornerback, said Harrison, Polamalu, Aaron Smith, James Farrior and LaMarr Woodley are as important to controlling Fitzgerald as the secondary is.

"The pass rushers, they've been our best friends all year," McFadden said. "They're going to elevate from being best friends to family members. These guys are going to be the key for us being successful."

Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt has a detailed knowledge of the Steelers' defense after previously being their offensive coordinator. But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin discounts that as a factor because teams and defenses evolve annually.

Also, Steelers players are certain that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, especially with two weeks to prepare, will draw up some schemes Warner and Fitzgerald haven't seen on tape.

"One thing you have is faith that coach LeBeau is going to find a way to cover all those guys," safety Ryan Clark said of 1,000-yard receivers Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.

As for Fitzgerald vs. Taylor, the Steelers believe it is anything but a mismatch, even though LeBeau calls Fitzgerald the best receiver he has seen at elevating to catch a ball.

"This guy is special," LeBeau said. "We are working on a short stepladder for Ike to carry around with him so he can get higher in the air."

Taylor played only one season on defense at Louisiana-Lafayette, but has started most of the last four seasons in Pittsburgh. He was benched for more than a month by former coach Bill Cowher in 2006, only to rebound with two consecutive good seasons.

To motivate himself, Taylor keeps a clipping about athletes who have come back from adversity the headline is "Bouncing Back" in his locker.

"Ike's the right guy for this," Foote said. "If you wanted to know who had the confidence and the personality and the swagger in this locker room (to defend Fitzgerald), Ike would be the first name that comes to you."

TallyStiller
01-24-2009, 07:47 PM
This is the game where Ike gets all the recognition he wants. Ocho Stinko has yet to catch a TD on him despite playing us 9 times in the last 4 years... he has shut down many of the league's best. Ike's size, speed, tackling and athleticism are all those of an elite NFL corner, but because his ball skills are poor, he doesn't get the picks.

No picks for a DB = no pub, which = no Pro Bowl and no coverage by the ESPIdiots, who don't know football, but love all things superficial. So, Champ Bailey is a perennial Pro Bowler while getting torched regularly on one of the worst defenses in the league because he picks off 1 of every half dozen balls thrown his way. Doesn't matter that the other team scores on twice as many as he gets, he's the ESPN darling.

Ike stifles his man, rarely gives up a long ball or a TD, is a great tackler and supports in the run game, but lacks in that one area of his game, and flies under the radar. But, in order for a D to be great, it has to have players all over the field. Ike and Smitty are the two unsung guys who make this D potentially close to what we had in the '70's. They can fix that "all the plays, half the credit" issue on Sunday. The '70's D had 5 HOF caliber guys - Greene, Greenwood, Lambert, Ham, and Blount. This one SHOULD have 5 Pro Bowlers - Harrison, Pola, Farrior, Smitty and Ike. It's time for credit where due.

steeld95
01-24-2009, 10:01 PM
This is the game where Ike gets all the recognition he wants. Ocho Stinko has yet to catch a TD on him despite playing us 9 times in the last 4 years... he has shut down many of the league's best. Ike's size, speed, tackling and athleticism are all those of an elite NFL corner, but because his ball skills are poor, he doesn't get the picks.

No picks for a DB = no pub, which = no Pro Bowl and no coverage by the ESPIdiots, who don't know football, but love all things superficial. So, Champ Bailey is a perennial Pro Bowler while getting torched regularly on one of the worst defenses in the league because he picks off 1 of every half dozen balls thrown his way. Doesn't matter that the other team scores on twice as many as he gets, he's the ESPN darling.

Ike stifles his man, rarely gives up a long ball or a TD, is a great tackler and supports in the run game, but lacks in that one area of his game, and flies under the radar. But, in order for a D to be great, it has to have players all over the field. Ike and Smitty are the two unsung guys who make this D potentially close to what we had in the '70's. They can fix that "all the plays, half the credit" issue on Sunday. The '70's D had 5 HOF caliber guys - Greene, Greenwood, Lambert, Ham, and Blount. This one SHOULD have 5 Pro Bowlers - Harrison, Pola, Farrior, Smitty and Ike. It's time for credit where due.

:Agree

I think Ike is one of the most underrated players in the game. One thing is for sure, he will have his chance to prove it next Sunday.