For years, Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor shadowed an opponent’s top receiver, regardless of where he lined up. Since the Browns’ Josh Gordon piled up 237 yards on Nov. 24, Taylor is lining up exclusively on the right side and Cortez Allen is on the left side.
“They’ll be left and right,” LeBeau said of his plans Sunday for the rematch against Gordon and the Browns. “We don’t know where they’re going to send him (Gordon), but we’re going to try to identify him once he gets there.”
Taylor, Allen and cornerback William Gay all seem to like the stay-the-course system.
“We didn’t think we were playing anywhere near our capability, and we thought this might help settle us down,” LeBeau said. “I think to some extent it has. – (We were) trying to get a few more turnovers, and make a few more plays, which I think we have.”
Allen had a 40-yard interception return touchdown Sunday in Green Bay.
Ben Roethlisberger is hoping to maintain his one-man domination of the Browns. He is 16-1 (8-0 at home) against them, with 26 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions overall and 14 TD passes and two interceptions in the last six games.
He also needs 247 yards to break his own single-season franchise record of 4,328 yards passing in 2009. And the Steelers are averaging 29.5 points in their last eight games.
“I feel like I’m doing pretty good,” Roethlisberger said. “I think our numbers, obviously not our wins and losses, in the second half of the season, when we really got into the no-huddle and got into doing some of the things that we’re doing now, have started to get better.”
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (knee), guard David DeCastro (back) and linebackers Jason Worilds (abdomen) and Terence Garvin (knee) didn’t practice Thursday. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said Sanders still has a chance to play against the Browns, and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is hopeful Worilds’ snaps won’t be limited. Worilds has four sacks in his last four games.
Team MVP Antonio Brown‘s 94.1 yards receiving per game average is the best in Steelers history; only Buddy Dial (1963) also averaged more than 90 yards per game (92.5). Only two other receivers averaged within 10 yards per game of Brown: Yancey Thigpen (87.4 in 1997) and John Stallworth (87.2 in 1984).
Despite the Browns’ 4-11 record, their defense is 10th overall. “You see a little evolution with some of the things they are doing, maybe seeing some things we didn’t see going into the first game (Nov. 24),” Haley said. “It’s like everybody else, evolving as the season goes on.”
â¢ Browns tight end MarQueis Gray (6-foot-4, 250 pounds) averages 7.8 yards on five carries out of the wildcat formation. âœHe’s a college quarterback who has quality numbers throwing the ball,â LeBeau said. âœIt seems like he gets seven or eight yards every time he runs it. We were kind of fortunate in the first game that he was not active.â
Le’Veon Bell‘s 124 yards rushing in Green Bay were the second most by a Steelers rookie in 41 years. Only Bam Morris had a bigger game, with 146 yards against the Giants in 1994. Franco Harris‘ best game as a rookie in 1972 was 138 yards against Buffalo.