by: Mark Kaboly, TribLIVE Updated:
PITTSBURGH - Ike Taylor has a knack for getting his point across quite clearly when breaking down the Steelers.
And that point?
“He always has that ‘he-thinks-he-is-better-than-me mentality,'” defensive backfield mate Ryan Clark said.
That approach certainly seemed to work last year when Taylor allowed the second-fewest receptions (30) among cornerbacks who played at least 50 percent of the snaps until an ankle injury late in the year snapped his consecutive-game streak at 135.
Well, it worked except for when he played against Tennessee.
“You have some days like that,” Taylor said. “You are not going to dot every ‘I' when you are writing a story, and you are not going to cross every ‘T' when you are writing a story. And the crazy part is that if I don't, we get to talk about it.”
During a nationally televised 26-23 Thursday night loss to the Titans in October, Taylor was thrown at 13 times, allowed eight catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. He topped that by being called for three pass interference/holding penalties (one accepted).
“You never want games like that, and you don't want games like that to happen, but from that game on, you have to be able to respond,” Taylor said.
Taylor allowed only six catches for 72 yards over the final seven games before suffering the season-ending injury in Week 13, proving he didn't let one game affect his season.
“There are days like that, and you have to put it aside and you just have to make sure it doesn't happen consistently,” Taylor said.
Taylor arguably has been one of the better cornerbacks in the league over the past couple of years, but he might not get the credit of some of his peers because of two games: the 2011 AFC wild-card game against Denver when he gave up 204 yards, including the game-clinching 80-yarder to Demaryius Thomas in overtime, and last year against Tennessee.
“He said he didn't play well against Tennessee, and if he said that, he must've not played well,” linebacker Larry Foote said. “It just wasn't his day.”
Taylor will get to try to right that wrong Sunday when the Steelers open the season by hosting the Titans. He'll be pitted against the same receivers who made him look foolish 11 months ago.
“We watched the film and saw a couple of their guys talking and mouthing off after certain plays, and that's the great thing about football: You can correct that,” Clark said. “It's like ‘Quantum Leap,' and Sam Beckett going back in time and put right what once went wrong.”
If Taylor is going to right his wrong, he likely is going to have to do it against more than Kenny Britt.
Taylor has been following the opponent's top receiver since midway through the 2005 season, when he was assigned to Cincinnati's Chad Johnson and held him to four receptions and no touchdowns.
Because Tennessee has such big receivers — Britt (6-foot-4), Nate Washington (6-1), Justin Hunter (6-4), Damian Williams (6-1) — Taylor likely will stick to playing the right side instead of following Britt.
“We rarely do it against Tennessee,” Taylor said. “I actually can't remember a time that we did.”
Last year, Britt was targeted seven times, with Williams, Washington and Wright two each.
“Ike has a perfect cornerback mentality,” Clark said. “He feels that the next guy he plays against or the next game he is going compete well and do well. That's why you like him on the corner.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib