Although the Cleveland Browns were thoroughly dominated by the Pittsburgh Steelers when the two teams met up last month, wide receiver Josh Gordon had a monster afternoon against Pittsburgh’s secondary.
How well did the former Baylor Bear pass-catcher perform against the Steelers the last time he faced them?
Well, Gordon was on the receiving end of over half of his team’s completions in that game (14 of the 27), racked up over 70 percent of the team’s receiving yards (237 of the 333) and scored Cleveland’s only touchdown. He thoroughly torched Ike Taylor and the rest of the Steelers defensive backs that day, and did so with Brandon Weeden throwing him passes for much of the second half.
I for one will give Antonio Brown for the fine MVP-like season he has enjoyed. To be fair however, Brown’s productivity has been rivaled by Gordon’s this fall. What makes the year Gordon has enjoyed even more impressive is that he has recorded 80 catches for league-leading 1,564 yards and nine touchdowns with guys like Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell and Weeden throwing him the ball. Moreover, he has racked up all of those numbers in only 13 regular season games!
Keeping tabs on Gordon will be of the utmost importance for Pittsburgh’s secondary on Sunday, but that task might not fall to Taylor.
Instead of the veteran, Cortez Allen could actually be the one who sees some extended work against Cleveland’s top pass-catcher. According to Scott Brown of ESPN.com, Taylor has stopped lining up against teams’ number one wide receivers in recent weeks.
In fact, Pittsburgh’s coaching staff have instead strictly lined Taylor up on the right side and Allen on the left of the defensive formations. Allen vs. Gordon could make for an interesting battle on Sunday, especially since Allen held his own for most of the night against AJ Green two weeks ago at Heinz Field.
Whomever is tasked with covering Gordon, they must hold the physically imposing pass-catcher (6’3″ 225 lbs.) in check for extended periods of time. Cleveland has one of the league’s worst rushing attacks (27th, 1,304 rushing yards), so it will be imperative that Pittsburgh’s defense prevents the Browns’ best offensive weapon from moving the chains through the air.
The Steelers have the talent and matchup advantages to emerge victorious in their season finale. So as long as they can limit the damage done by Gordon, they should coast to a relatively easy win like they did in November.
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