McFadden irked by critics after Steelers' opener
When Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White caught 13 passes for 111 yards against the Steelers on Sunday, left cornerback Bryant McFadden wasn't fazed.
In fact, McFadden took offense to media and fan criticism this week that he was victimized by White.
For starters, the Steelers' defense didn't allow a touchdown in a 15-9 overtime win at Heinz Field.
White was targeted 23 times, meaning that he failed to make a catch on 10 other occasions. White was held to only 8.5 yards a catch.
The assignment of defending White generally fell to McFadden, since they usually lined up on the same side of the field. However, William Gay also played on the left, and safety Troy Polamalu was shaded to that side when he intercepted a pass intended for White late in regulation.
"He was targeted 23 times - sometimes 23 completions is a whole ballgame for a team," said McFadden, who didn't practice Thursday because of a groin injury. "As far as yards per catch, we did what we needed to do. He was their big-play guy, their Pro Bowl receiver. Not allowing him to make a big play and get in the end zone was something we needed to do to be successful."
McFadden's workload could decrease in Sunday's game at Tennessee. The Titans feature an explosive running attack powered by Chris Johnson. They aren't likely to pass as much as Atlanta did.
However, quarterback Vince Young is developing chemistry with wide receiver Nate Washington, a former Steeler. The pair connected on a long touchdown pass against Oakland in the opener.
Asked if he expects Young to test his side of the field, McFadden replied: "You have to expect the unexpected."
The way McFadden views last Sunday's situation, when the Steelers shut down Atlanta's ground game, the Falcons, who rushed for only 58 yards, were forced to throw more than they wanted.
Of quarterback Matt Ryan's 43 pass attempts, more than half were directed toward White. Tight end Tony Gonzalez was held to only two catches for 35 yards.
The Steelers cornerbacks kept Atlanta's passing game in front of them, and McFadden kept White out of the end zone.
"It's very hard for a team to drive like that. Those plays are not going to beat us," said McFadden, who recorded a career-high 14 tackles against Atlanta. "Most offenses don't want to be nickel and diming all the time. If we can keep everything in front of us and punish them and make tackles, that's what we're going to do.
"A lot of people read into it the wrong way. People watching from the couch really don't understand football. They think it wasn't a good job. But on our end, we did what (defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau) wanted us to do."
Gay, who is becoming a fixture at nickel back when he isn't filling in at cornerback, agreed with McFadden's analysis that the secondary was following orders by playing soft coverage against the Falcons.
"It's tough to run 10-yard outs the whole game and win," said Gay, who will start against Tennessee if McFadden doesn't play. "We tried to erase the big plays. No passes over 25 yards. Coach LeBeau teaches that."
Hard to stop
Here are the top five receiving performances against the Steelers:
1. Carl Pickens, Cincinnati • 13 receptions, 204 yards, 1 touchdown (Oct. 11, 1998)
2. Roddy White, Atlanta • 13 receptions, 111 yards (Sept. 12, 2010)
3. Steve Watson, Denver • 11 receptions, 177 yards, 1 touchdown (Dec. 30, 1984)
4. Kellen Winslow, San Diego • 10 receptions, 171 yards (Dec. 22, 1980)
5. Marques Colston, New Orleans • 10 receptions, 169 yards (Nov. 12, 2006)