View Full Version : Head-to-head: Steelers CB Bryant McFadden vs. Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall

10-24-2010, 10:50 AM
Head-to-head: Steelers CB Bryant McFadden vs. Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall
Sunday, October 24, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Cornerback Bryant McFadden has the somewhat dubious distinction of being the only player other than inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons to lead the team in tackles in a game this season.

That came in the season-opening victory against the Atlanta Falcons when McFadden had 12 unassisted tackles trying to cover Pro Bowl wide receiver Roddy White, who had 13 catches. White was such a favorite of quarterback Matt Ryan that 23 of Ryan's 44 pass attempts were intended for him.

McFadden might have the same kind of workload today when the Steelers play in Miami.

That's because quarterback Chad Henne likes to throw with the same frequency to wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Denver Broncos.

Marshall leads the Dolphins with 37 catches and 467 yards after catching 10 passes for 127 yards in last week's victory in Green Bay. In that game, 17 of Henne's 39 pass attempts were intended for Marshall.

"He's a physical matchup problem for anyone in your secondary," coach Mike Tomlin said. "What makes him unique -- there are a lot of big receivers -- is his ability to run after the catch. He's got short-man quickness in terms of his ability to drop his weight and change direction. He's a tough guy to tackle once he catches it."

Catching a lot of passes is nothing new for Marshall. He holds the NFL record of 21 catches set last season in a game against the Indianapolis Colts. He also had 18 catches in a 2008 game against San Diego, tied for third most in league history.

Whether by design or circumstance, McFadden has been getting a lot of action since returning to the Steelers. Because the Steelers no longer use cornerback Ike Taylor to follow the opponents' top receiver, McFadden has found himself in more matchups against receivers such as White and Baltimore's Anquan Boldin.

It is one of the reasons he has more solo tackles (29) than anyone on the team other than Timmons (45) and is tied for third in total tackles with outside linebacker James Harrison (37).

Also, opposing teams have been more inclined to throw away from Taylor, forcing the action to McFadden.

"Let's face it, if you want to take any corner who ever played and you want to isolate a game or a couple games, you can find someone playing pretty tough hard-to-win-with football because that's the nature of the position," said defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, a Hall of Fame cornerback. "He's a quality NFL corner."

With the exception of getting beat on a double-move by receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh for the winning touchdown against the Ravens, McFadden has done a good job of keeping the ball in front of him and getting the receiver on the ground.

White, for example, didn't have a gain longer than 18 yards against the Steelers.

"If they're committed to getting [Marshall] the ball they will," Tomlin said. "I think it's important that we try to minimize the amount of damage he does to us, similar to Roddy White when we played Atlanta. When they are committed to getting the ball to Pro Bowl-caliber guys, they're going to get it. You just try to minimize the amount of damage that they do to you when they do get it."

Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com.

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