Get Back On The Ike Taylor Bandwagon - By Neal Coolong

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

It took seven game seconds and one play for Marvin Harrison to win a few fantasy games for his owners across the country. Ike TaylorIt took one play for Steelers fans to feel that pang of terror caused by Pittsburgh 's secondary over the last three years.

It was the same cornerback - Ike Taylor - who all but eliminated that horribly uncomfortable feeling when Steelers fans saw a deeper pass go out of the quarterback's hand.

Looking back as recently as two years ago, Pittsburgh was known as a tough defensive team with a secondary as porous as a sponge. Taylor was a third-round pick from a small school (Louisiana-Lafyette), but his size and athleticism gave him a boatload of potential.

He showed it on a big stage earlier this year. Whether he crossed it off his list or not, Taylor shut-down Bengals' receiver Chad Johnson Oct. 23 in the first meeting of the top teams in the AFC North. Johnson picked up 94 yards - half of which on one catch in throwaway time at the end of the game (covered by Ricardo Colclough).

Taylor had equally impressive outings in covering Green Bay 's Donald Driver and Houston's Andre Johnson. He was showing all the makings of becoming a legitimate shut-down corner - the Steelers' first since Rod Woodson.

Then there was Harrison. It's a shame how one play ultimately decides the ability of a defensive back in the Court of Public Opinion.

Granted, Marvelous Marvin is one of the best receivers of his generation, but Ike bought a Peyton Manning play-action pass like it was going to run out, leaving Harrison untouched for an 80-yard touchdown pass. Just like that, all the confidence Steelers fans have had in their outstanding young corner was gone. Glancing over blogs, message boards and other time-wasting media, a fan would have thought Ike Taylor was akin to the abilities of a second-string varsity player - everyone jumped off his bandwagon faster than Vikings fans have jumped back on theirs.

One play. One play!

To quote one blogger: "Ike Taylor is the worst pick we have ever made. He sucks so bad!"

Wow. A bit extreme.

To quote another: "He's no Deion (Sanders)."

True. He can tackle.

Take out that 80-yard touchdown pass, and Marvin Harrison put up the same numbers as Ravens' WR Derrick Mason. Harrison and Mason are both savvy, talented veteran receivers who are going to get their catches. But in three games covering Mason and Harrison, Taylor allowed just that one touchdown pass, which was a result of being over-aggressive against the run.

Is that a bad thing? Do you remember Chad Scott's lack of desire to be aggressive toward anything except mugging the receiver three seconds before the ball arrived?

Defend Ike Taylor. He isn't the cornerstone of an emerging young secondary, but he was our hero after the first Cincinnati game, and he's facing that same team Sunday. He has shut down one of the game's best, and he'll do it again. Quit hatin'.

Johnson has already pledged a new end zone dance in case he's able to shake free of Taylor . He's already done interviews wearing a Terrible Towel like a bib. He was quoted as saying he was going to "iron out" the Steel City.

Not sure what that means, exactly, but I'm looking forward to this. I like this side of Chad Johnson. It's makes the games where he gets shut down and the Steelers win by 28 that much sweeter.

And it goes a long way to repair Ike's unjustly damaged reputation in Steelers Nation.