Steelers Film Session: Ravens latest to target Taylor
By Mark Kaboly
Published: Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
There's no denying teams are targeting the Steelers' best matchup corner Ike Taylor like never before and have been enjoying great success, but numbers can and do lie in Taylor's case.
Taylor was targeted 11 times during Thursday's 22-20 loss to Baltimore, allowing six catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. He also was called for a 26-yard pass interference penalty.
It marked the third consecutive week Taylor has been targeted at least 11 times and allowed at least five receptions, 100 yards and a touchdown.
However, some of those numbers are a little deceiving.
Taylor's main matchup Thursday, Torrey Smith, caught a 54-yard pass on the third play of the game. Taylor was expecting post help from safety Will Allen and was playing outside technique. When Allen jumped underneath, Smith was open for the long gain in the middle of the field.
Three plays later, Taylor again was expecting post help inside, but Troy Polamalu jumped tight end Dallas Clark at the goal line, leaving the middle of the end zone open again for Smith.
Taylor was expecting the same post help two weeks ago against Calvin Johnson. That resulted in a 79-yard touchdown.
Over the past three weeks, Taylor has allowed 20 receptions, 429 yards and four touchdowns.
Teams have been going Taylor's way more. Through the first nine games, Taylor was thrown at an average of six times per game. Over the past three, those numbers have almost doubled (11.3).
Last year, Taylor was thrown at only six times per game before getting hurt and missing the majority of the final four games.
In fact, the past four-plus years up until the past three games, Taylor was thrown at an average of just more than six times per game — a lot different than the 11.3 over the past three weeks.
• It was said that the Steelers used the same play on their fourth-down touchdown that they would've used on the 2-point conversion attempt had Le'Veon Bell's touchdown been allowed. It might have been the same play but not the same formation. When the Steelers thought Bell's touchdown was good, they lined up in the 11 personnel package with two receivers to the right and one to the left. However, Ben Roethlisberger was under center with Jonathan Dwyer in the I-formation before the referee decided to review Bell's touchdown. During the fourth-down touchdown, Roethlisberger was in the shotgun with Dwyer to his right.
• The failed 2-point play was not the same route run by Emmanuel Sanders during the touchdown the previous play. Sanders ran a quick slant on the touchdown and a short fade on the failed 2-point attempt.
• Jerricho Cotchery said he was open on the 2-point play. However, it was Antonio Brown who was open. Lardarius Webb stopped covering Brown and helped out Corey Graham on the under-cutting Cotchery.
• The Steelers threw out of the no-huddle only seven times through three quarters with minimal success. Roethlisberger was 3 of 7 for 14 yards. That changed in the fourth quarter when the Steelers used the no-huddle 15 of 31 plays. Roethlisberger went 9 of 13 for 83 yards and called two run plays, one of which resulted in Bell's 1-yard touchdown. For the game, the Steelers ran 27 plays for 162 yards out of the no-huddle and 35 plays for 167 yards when they huddled. During their first meeting, the Steelers didn't use the no-huddle against the Ravens.
• While the no-huddle offense again was successful, Roethlisberger kept it simple by throwing the majority of the time to Bell and Heath Miller. Miller was targeted six times and caught five passes for 46 yards. Bell was thrown at seven times, catching five for 47 yards. The only non-Bell/Miller no-huddle reception was 5 yards to Sanders.
• The Ravens ran the no-huddle offense much more than the Steelers. In fact, they used the no-huddle in 26 of the 28 plays in the second half before the three kneel-downs by Joe Flacco to end the game. Baltimore ran the no-huddle 71 percent of the time against the Steelers with Flacco completing 16 of 26 passes for 196 yards. The Ravens rushed 17 times out of the offense, gaining 67 yards. They were sacked once for minus-8 yards. Only 56 of the Ravens' 311 yards came from a formation other than the no-huddle. In two games against the Steelers this season, the Ravens used the no-huddle 71 times.
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