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mesaSteeler
12-12-2010, 08:39 AM
Head to head: Bengals WR Terrell Owens vs. Steelers CB Bryant McFadden
Sunday, December 12, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10346/1109859-66.stm

Do not be quick to blame cornerback Bryant McFadden for everything.

While opposing teams have chosen to target his side for a lot of pass attempts, McFadden is not always the culprit for some of the long passes that have nearly cost the Steelers the past couple games.

And he even made one of the big plays in the 13-10 victory against the Ravens Sunday night that likely went undetected.

McFadden and the Steelers secondary will need plenty of big plays today against the Cincinnati Bengals, especially after the problems wide receiver Terrell Owens caused them last month in the first meeting in Paul Brown Stadium.

Having one of the best seasons in his remarkable 15-year career, Owens had 10 catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns in the Bengals' 27-21 loss to the Steelers on Nov. 8 -- the most receiving yards against the Steelers this season. One of those touchdowns was a 27-yarder over McFadden in the back right corner of the end zone.

"There are a bunch of examples of that in the AFC North -- Hines Ward, Derrick Mason and T.O.," coach Mike Tomlin said. "There are a bunch of seasoned wide receivers who are very talented but also very smart and call on experience and know-how. He has some of those characteristics."

And something those others don't -- speed.

Owens turned 37 on Tuesday and is the oldest starting receiver in the league, but he is on pace to have his most productive year since he was with the San Francisco 49ers in 2002. He leads the Bengals with 71 catches, 961 yards and nine touchdowns and needs just 26 more receptions to pass Marvin Harrison (1,102) and move into second place on the league's all-time list.

"I don't know what his workout regimen is, but it's something that's working," McFadden said. "You really don't see a 36-year-old guy do that."

And rarely do you see a team complete passes of 61 and 67 yards in the same game without a touchdown, which the Ravens did against the Steelers.

Anquan Boldin beat safety Ryan Clark on the 61-yarder to set up the Ravens' only touchdown, and Donte Stallworth appeared to get behind McFadden on a 67-yard completion in the second quarter. But Steelers coaches absolved McFadden of any blame, saying he did what he was supposed to do and was merely trying to cover for a mixup elsewhere in their zone defense.

But maybe McFadden's biggest play was the one he didn't have to make. On fourth-and-2 from the Steelers' 31 with 37 seconds remaining, McFadden had such tight inside coverage on Boldin that it forced quarterback Joe Flacco to go away from his intended target and bounce an incompletion to tight end Ed Dickson on the other side, ending the Ravens' chance at victory.

"Usually Boldin is an inside guy and when he went outside, I kind of anticipated something very quick to him because he's a big body and a lot of guys his size usually use their body to get inside," McFadden said. "It looked like [Flacco] got nervous. He checked one way and checked another and he had a guy in the flat but his first couple reads weren't there."

Thanks to McFadden.
Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com.


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