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August 9th, 2014, 7:30pmET

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Old 01-26-2009, 06:27 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Seeing things his way: Taylor's a key for Steelers

Seeing things his way: Taylor's a key for Steelers
http://www.timesonline.com/articles/...5272410564.txt
Ike Taylor is often matched up with the opposition's top wide receiver. (Times photo by Lucy Schaly)

By Mike Bires, Times Sports Staff

The definition can’t be found in a dictionary. But on Ike Taylor’s personal Web site — www.facemeike.com — the meaning is explained three ways.

1: An expression or attitude.

2: To strive for success when faced with adversity.

3: Ike Taylor.

In essence, that’s how Taylor defines his life’s work with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He may be soft-spoken off the field, but he’s one of the Steelers’ most boisterous trash talkers on the field.

As a cornerback in the NFL, he’s constantly faced with adversity. Week in and week out, corners face some of the fastest, quickest and most agile athletes in the world.

The man who plays corner best for the Steelers is Ike Taylor.

The man who faces Ike next is Larry Fitzgerald, the Arizona Cardinals’ gee-whiz wide receiver.

“This is definitely a good match-up,” Taylor said. “It’s going to be noticed by a lot of people.”

Taylor is right about that. Studies say that 100 million people throughout the world watch the Super Bowl. And when they watch Super Bowl XLIII on Sunday, the most intriguing one-on-one match-up will be Fitzgerald vs. Taylor.

“Fitzgerald is going to be the talk of the Super Bowl, so that’s the key match-up,” Steelers linebacker Larry Foote said. “If Ike can do a great job on him, our chances of winning increase.

“Ike’s the right guy for this. If you wanted to know who had the confidence, the personality and the swagger in this locker room, Ike would be the first name that comes to mind.”

Now a sixth-year pro, Taylor is not universally recognized as one of the NFL’s elite defensive backs. He’s never been to the Pro Bowl. He only has eight regular-season interceptions, including just one this year.

Still, the Steelers think of him as a star.

Often defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau assigns Taylor to an opponent’s best receiver and shadow him wherever he goes. In the past, he’s guarded the likes of Marvin Harrison of Indianapolis Colts, Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson of Cincinnati and Randy Moss of New England.

More often that not, Taylor does his job well.

The Steelers’ top-ranked defense leads the league in several statistical categories. Among them is pass defense. Much credit goes to the pass rush, led by linebacker James Harrison, the NFL’s 2008 Defensive Player of the Year.

But the job done by the secondary shouldn’t be overlooked.

Stength in numbers

Coach Mike Tomlin deferred when asked about Taylor’s performance this year.

“I don’t isolate … any individual specifically on defense,” he said. “The strength of our defense is our defense. The strength of the group is the group.”

By that, Tomlin means that great pass defense calls for relentless pressure on the quarterback and blanket coverage by the defensive backs, particularly the corners.

More than anything, that will be the key to beating the Cardinals.

The Steelers must pressure Kurt Warner and cover three wide receivers who have each racked up over 1,000 receiving yards during the regular season: Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.

Fitzgerald and Boldin are both dangerous. Both will start for the NFC in the Pro Bowl. Still, it’s Fitzgerald, the ex-Pitt star, who scares the Steelers the most.

In the three playoff wins that advanced the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, Fitzgerald has 23 catches for 419 yards and five TDs.

His receiving yards broke Jerry Rice’s NFL record for most yards in a single post-season.

Fitzgerald, who’s 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, isn’t the fastest wideout in the league. But he’s a tremendous leaper with great hands.

Tomlin says he’s “the best in the world” in one-on-one battles downfield. Thus, Taylor figures to gets plenty of help from the Steeler safeties.

Still, there will be times when Taylor must take on Fitzgerald man-to-man. And even when Taylor does get help or when the Steelers may be playing zone defense, Taylor still has to make plays when Warner throws to Fitzgerald.

“Yeah, he’s one of the best in the world,” said Taylor, who’s the Steelers’ biggest defensive back at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds. “He’s hot right now. But ever since he came out of college, he’s been doing it. He’s been doing it for a long time. But it’s a bigger stage now. So everyone sees it.”

“We’re going to have a step ladder for Ike to carry around with him so he can get up higher in the air,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said when asked how Taylor can combat Fitzgerald’s ability to leap over DBs and make the catch.

“Our corners all have to do a good job at the ball because they’re going to be tested. I think that our numbers say that our corners have done a good job for us (all year). But we haven’t played against this guy yet.

“We always try to approach it like we’re facing a great scorer in basketball,” LeBeau added. “You’re not going to stop him. You just have to keep him from dominating the game. Instead of 50 points, let him score 18 to 24. That’s what we try to do against any top receiver.”

Larry last year

Last year when the Steelers and Cardinals meet in Week 4, Fitzgerald didn’t dominate. But he did play well in the 21-14 Arizona win with 10 catches for 120 yards. And he did beat Taylor for a 38-yard catch in the fourth quarter that keyed the Cardinals’ last touchdown drive.

“I remember playing against them down in Arizona last year and I remember him coming out with the starting lineups and him jumping up,” Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu said. “We all looked at each other and said, ‘Oh my God. This kid is a freak athlete.’

“How do you stop him? I don’t know because nobody has stopped him.”

Sounds like a job for Face Me Ike.
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Old 01-26-2009, 08:51 AM   #2
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Default Re: Seeing things his way: Taylor's a key for Steelers

IMO this is the biggest match up for the Super Bowl. I am sure Ike will get plenty of help over the top with Clark or Troy. And since we are in the Super Bowl maybe Ike can pick up another key interception. Let's go Ike!
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