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Steelers film review: Teams targeting Taylor with success

| Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Christopher Horner
The Titans' Kenny Britt catches a pass, as Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor defends during the first quarter Thursday October 11, 2012 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor played so well last season that opposing quarterbacks were more than happy to steer clear of his side of the field.

Denver changed that thinking in the AFC wild-card game, when Demaryius Thomas and the Broncos burned him for 204 yards.

It appears Denver set a plan the rest of the NFL has followed: Target Ike Taylor.

That was especially evident during Thursday's 26-23 loss to Tennessee.

Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw in Taylor's direction nearly a third of the time he dropped back to pass.

Taylor allowed eight catches by four different receivers and gave up 115 yards and a touchdown. He was penalized twice for 30 yards (a third flag was declined). And he would've allowed 20 more receiving yards had Kenny Britt not dropped two passes. Taylor was targeted 15 times.

It was the most catches Taylor has allowed in 39 games dating to Week 2 of 2010, when gave up eight against Tennessee.

Teams have really picked on Taylor this season.

Through five games he has been targeted 44 times, allowing 24 receptions for 392 yards and four touchdowns while being called for seven penalties.

To put that into perspective, through five games last season, Taylor allowed three receptions for 24 yards and no touchdowns. He was targeted 24 times and called for only one penalty.OTHER OBSERVATIONS

• On the 11-play, 80-yard drive late in the fourth quarter that tied the score at 23-23, the Titans converted three third downs: a third-and-8, third-and-10 and third-and-5. The Steelers did not blitz Hasselbeck on any of those plays. However, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau did call a run blitz on a first-down run play and a pair of second downs — just not on third downs. There might be a good reason. On the Titans drive that led to the game-winning field goal, LeBeau called a blitz on third-and-5 at midfield, and Hasselbeck hit a crossing Jared Cook underneath for 25 yards that put the Titans in field-goal range.

• On Tennessee receiver Kendall Wright's 35-yard reception during the fourth-quarter touchdown drive, the Steelers' defense was confused with its own call. It marked the second consecutive game the defense had trouble with a call from the sidelines in which the offense snapped the ball quickly for a big gain.

• On second-and-6 with 1:16 left in a tie game, Roethlisberger had a “check-with-me” call at the line of scrimmage. He checked into a zone run blocking scheme and handed off to Baron Batch. It was the right call by Roethlisberger, as right tackle Mike Adams blocked down to create a seam. However, instead of hitting that hole, Batch saw another hole between the center and left guard. By the time he got there, Kamerion Wimbley shut it down, throwing Batch for a 1-yard loss. Some yards there would've set up Shaun Suisham for a shorter field-goal attempt than 54 yards.

• For how good Roethlisberger has been, he was a little off against the Titans. He missed throws to Emmanuel Sanders late in the game, missed Heath Miller in the end zone and overthrew Will Johnson and Mike Wallace.

• For how poor of a game Taylor had, he helped set up Timmons' fourth-quarter interception. When Wright went into motion left to right, Taylor made sure Timmons knew that he was responsible for Wright by gesturing to him. Timmons was able to pick up the crossing Wright and step inside of him for the interception.

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