In case you missed it, the Pittsburgh Steelers slightly altered their cornerback rotation this past Sunday in their Week 17 win over the Cleveland Browns.
According to our game charting, Steelers fans witnessed something that hasn’t happened all season as cornerback Brandon Boykin played ever sub package snap against the Browns.
Even though Boykin played extensively Sunday, so too did fellow cornerback Antwon Blake in the first half. However, much like we saw in the second half of the game a few weeks ago against the Denver Broncos, Blake saw very limited playing time in the final 30 minutes of play on defense against the Browns as he logged just 7 defensive snaps as his outside spot was turned over to cornerback Ross Cockrell.
Blake’s play Sunday against the Browns was once again highlighted by a few missed tackles, a defensive holding penalty and a long completion to quarterback turned wide receiver Terrelle Pryor late in the first half on a third and long play. Blake did, however, to his credit, register a sack and 2 defensed passes in the game.
The Steelers will play the Cincinnati Bengals Saturday in one of the two AFC Wild Card games and you can bet that their offense will be looking to target Blake in coverage early and often in the game just as they did in the previous two regular season meetings between the two teams. The last time the two teams faced off, Blake was beat by Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green for a long touchdown in the first half.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has indicated several times over the course of the last few weeks that he would be sticking with the same rotation at cornerback that the team has used since Boykin started seeing considerable playing time back in Week 13. He obviously altered that rotation some this past Sunday by playing Boykin the entire game in the defense’s nickel package and one can only hope and pray that he alters it more Saturday in Cincinnati by leaving Blake on the bench. However, knowing Tomlin, those hopes and prayers will be fruitless.