Matchup To Watch

Ravens Vs. Steelers

Ravens Gameday

October 31, 2005

Ravens receiver Derrick Mason vs. Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor George Kokinis, the Ravens' pro personnel director, sizes up the top matchup against the Steelers:

THE PLAYERS

Derrick Mason leads the Ravens in receiving with 37 catches for 401 yards and one touchdown. The team's top free-agent pickup on offense, he leads the league in third-down receptions with 16. He is on pace for 99 catches, which would shatter the team's single-season record (76 by Michael Jackson in 1996).

A first-year starter, Ike Taylor leads the Steelers with seven passes broken up and is second on the team with 44 tackles. He has one career interception. A fourth-round pick in 2003, he was Pittsburgh's primary kickoff returner as a rookie.

What to watch

Mason is a veteran and Taylor is a fresh face. So has Taylor seen all the routes in this league? Has he seen how an experienced route runner like Mason can turn guys around? Taylor has speed and size (6 feet 1, 191 pounds), but he is not a pure cover guy.

The Steelers hadn't been assigning a cornerback on a specific receiver but did so last week, when Taylor went against Cincinnati's Chad Johnson. Taylor limited Johnson to 47 yards on three catches before giving up a meaningless 47-yard reception. The Steelers gave him some help over the top with a safety, but I don't know if they'll do the same tonight.

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