Steelers' secondary limits big plays
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Deshea Townsend did a double-take on Derrick Mason's double-move that froze the Steelers' cornerback and left the Baltimore Ravens' receiver open in the end zone -- only to drop a sure touchdown pass.
"I'm lucky," Townsend said. "I got my mulligan."
The Ravens tried to tee off on the Steelers' cornerbacks as often as possible, converting three third-down passes but failing to hit the long ball. While the Steelers' secondary gave up a couple of big plays, including two touchdown catches by Ravens tight end Todd Heap, it didn't allow a pass play longer than 30 yards in the 23-20 victory over Baltimore on Sunday at Heinz Field.
"We eliminated the big plays, what coach wanted us to do," said cornerback William Gay, whom Townsend replaced in the starting lineup. "We knew they were going to catch some balls. That's a good offense, with good receivers. We just tried to keep everything in front of us."
Because of that, the Steelers can look ahead to their season finale at Miami, a game Pro Bowl strong safety Troy Polamalu has targeted as a possible comeback from a knee injury that caused him to miss the past six games.
In his absence, the defensive backfield has been a sore spot for the Steelers. Green Bay's Greg Jennings scored on an 83-yard catch last week, and Oakland's Louis Murphy on a 75-yarder Dec. 6. That prompted the lineup change and the reliance upon more sub-packages by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who was complimentary of his secondary.
"The big thing is that they're in the right frame of mind in terms of being ready to deliver for us," Tomlin said. "I liked the way they fought. I liked the way they were around the football. They didn't play tentative. That's what's going to be required as we chase, hopefully, some January football."
Depending on whether the Steelers were in their nickel (five defensive backs) or penny package (three corners), Townsend lined up at left corner, against the slot and at both safety spots. He was beaten by Heap on a 30-yard touchdown pass that cut the Steelers' lead to 13-10 at 9:55 of the second quarter, but got a break when Mason dropped a 21-yard pass in the end zone with the score tied, 20-20, on the first play of the fourth quarter.
"As a corner," Townsend said, "you've got to go out there and defend what you're supposed to defend, stop the deep ball and make plays when you have to."
And take the breaks when they come.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers defense takes aim at Ravens QB Flacco
- Steelers notebook: Ravens enter short-handed at tight end
- Veteran LB Harrison: Steelers must play to way defense is set up
- Steelers’ prime-time games shrink attendance at Heinz Field
- Steelers notebook: Fully healthy, rookie WR Bryant progressing fast
- ‘Big play’ moniker fits veteran Steelers cornerback Gay
- Steelers notebook: No reminders needed that Ravens are next foe
- Steelers offense puts up gaudy numbers in season’s 1st half
- Rossi: Roethlisberger’s 100th was legendary, maybe more
- QB Roethlisberger, Steelers roll past Colts in record-setting game
- Steelers notebook: CB Allen sent to bench