The collapse of the Steelers’ defense against the Tim Tebow-led Broncos saw Ike Taylor cough up the first 200+ yard game we have ever recorded from a cornerback. No other CB has allowed more than 200 yards since we began grading games fully in 2008, and his ranks as the highest yardage total allowed in 1061 games of grading.
In the process of finding out these numbers it helped us remember a number of other disastrous performances from corners. Because it’s been a few rough days for Ike (who had a largely impressive 2011) we figured to show him he’s not alone by shedding light on the 10 cornerback performances over the last four years that have yielded the most receiving yardage.
So here’s a list that no cornerback wants to make. Look away now CBs of a nervous disposition.
Ike Taylor, PIT @ DEN, 2011 WC: 204 yards on 4 receptions
The Pittsburgh Steelers came into this game with a plan to sell out against the Denver running game and option attack. This meant leaving their corners out on an island against the Broncos’ receivers, banking on the notion that Tim Tebow couldn’t exploit it. Unfortunately for them, and for Ike Taylor, on this day he could, and–with man-coverage and no safety help–any time there was a completion, it was a big one. Taylor was exploited early for a big completion down the left sideline as Tebow was able to drop the pass into the hands of his receiver despite close coverage from Taylor on the play. Demaryius Thomas caught four balls for a mind-blowing 204 yards and a touchdown, including the first and only play on offense for the Broncos in overtime. The 204 yards Ike Taylor gave up was just 6 yards fewer than he allowed for the first 10 games of 2011 and almost half of his total yardage for the entire regular season.
Biggest play: Demaryius Thomas – 80 yards, TD
The biggest play Taylor was beaten for also happened to be the last play, and the one that cost Pittsburgh the game. With the safety charging into the box late to play the run, Thomas was able to get an inside release and streak across the field with Taylor in his wake. A viscious stiff-arm turned a 25-yard play into an 80-yard streak to the end zone for the game winning play.
Glover Quin, HOU @ JAX, 2010 WK 10: 196 yards on 10 receptions
Before moving to safety for the Texans and playing pretty well, Glover Quin was out of his depth as a corner on one of the league’s poorest secondaries. In this game against Jacksonville, Quin was just target practice, allowing 10 receptions on 11 targets in the game. Mike Thomas was the biggest beneficiary of Quin’s coverage, catching all five of the passes thrown to him for 114 yards and a touchdown, though three other receivers also caught passes in Quin’s coverage. Jacksonville QB David Garrard had a perfect 158.3 QB rating when throwing at Quinn in this game, and no other Texan was thrown at half as often as Quin was. He also allowed three times more catches than any other Texan in the game, with three other defenders allowing three receptions being the next poorest mark.
Biggest play: Mike Thomas – 52 yards, TD
It wasn’t the longest reception Quinn gave up on the day (Zach Miller caught a 52-yard pass earlier in the game), but the biggest one was unquestionably the final play. With a tied game the Jaguars launched a final Hail Mary pass downfield from midfield. Glover Quinn got himself into perfect position and rather than intercept the pass, he did what you are coached to do–bat it down. Unfortunately for Quinn, and rather typical of his day, he managed to bat it right into the open arms of Mike Thomas who found himself gifted the game-winning touchdown.
Terrence McGee, BUF @ MIA, 2008 WK8: 196 yards on 10 receptions
Allowing an identical 196 yards on ten receptions to Glover Quinn, McGee is saved from the number two spot in this list only because he somehow managed to avoid giving up a touchdown. Any time you are responsible for Ted Ginn coming away with a big day you know things have gone poorly, and McGee was responsible for Ginn catching all six passes thrown in his direction for 171 yards. Both of the other top two Dolphins receivers at the time, Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess, caught every pass thrown their was as well, but their catches combined for just 25 yards as Ginn did the damage.
Biggest play: Tedd Ginn – 64 yards
Ginn was able to beat up McGee running essentially just two routes all day, the hitch and the post, and it was one of these that provided the biggest play, a 64-yard reception. McGee was beaten on the post and then compounded things with a missed tackle that allowed Ginn significant yards after the catch.
Brandon Browner, SEA @ PIT, 2011 WK2: 194 yards on 10 receptions
Brandon Browner started the season slowly in 2011 before finding his niche and ending it strongly, looking like an imposing presence for the Seahawks going forward. In Week 2 we saw a performance that threatened to undermine his role in the lineup entirely, and looked to provide the blueprint for defeating him. As a tall corner he was always likely to struggle against smaller, quicker receivers, so matching him up with the Steelers receivers was never going to go well. It was Mike Wallace that did most of the damage, catching all six passes thrown his way for 115 yards and a touchdown, but Browner surrendered a catch every single time he was targeted in this game
Biggest play: Mike Wallace – 53 yards
Lined up in press-man coverage (Browner’s strength), but in the slot as the Steelers had Heath Miller split wide to the left, Browner found himself without the aid of the sideline on this play. Mike Wallace was able to get a clean release outside, before outrunning Browner downfield. The play was delayed as Roethlisberger was pressured in the pocket and both receiver and corner hesitated, but just as Browner looked back to find out what was happening, the ball was in the air and Wallace accelerated past him again for a tough catch and a 53-yard reception.
Kevin Thomas, IND vs ATL, 2011 WK9: 193 yards on 5 receptions
The first of our worst days to have occured with the cornerback playing at home, in Week 9 of this season, the Colts’ Kevin Thomas had a day he would rather forget, allowing five receptions on six targets for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Thomas gave up those receptions to just a pair of receivers; the Atlanta starters of Roddy White (three receptions) and Julio Jones (two). Another corner to allow a perfect QB rating to the opposing passer throwing at them, Matt Ryan put up the 158.3 QB rating by averaging 32.2 yards per completion and tossing a pair of touchdowns. Julio Jones only caught a pair of passes, but both went for touchdowns and combined for 130 yards on the first game back from a hamstring injury for the Falcons’ rookie.
Biggest play: Julio Jones – 80 yards, TD
Thomas was beaten for a long touchdown pass both times Julio Jones caught the ball in his coverage, but one of them outgained the other by 30 yards. On the 80-yarder Jones ran a simple slant route against the soft zone coverage of the Colts, and Thomas couldn’t come up in time to make the tackle, alowing Jones to simply power straight through the attempt. From that point, Jones outran Thomas along with the rest of the Colts’ defense to the end zone to put Atlanta 21-0 up in the game.
Fabian Washington, BAL @ SD, 2009 WK2: 193 yards on 6 receptions
Separating himself from the Colts’ Thomas despite conceding the same number of yards, Washington allowed one fewer touchdown on the six receptions he gave up in this game. This is the first performance in our list that came in a winning effort for the cornerback’s team as the Ravens overcame San Diego 31-26 despite Washington’s performance. The corner was targeted eight times, allowing six receptions to five different receivers. Washington didn’t exactly do a great job on any of them, but the real damage to his numbers came on one play to Darren Sproles, which ended up in an 81-yard touchdown, without which Washington’s day would have just been below average, but anonymous, rather than noteworthy in this kind of article.
Biggest play: Darren Sproles – 81 yards, TD
With the game still tied and with the Ravens forcing San Diego into 3rd-and-3 deep in their own half, Washington was the victim of a bad call from the Ravens’ defense that allowed Darren Sproles to pick up the first down … and then another 78 yards and a touchdown. Washington gets caught in a busted coverage as he is forced to stay on Antonio Gates when no other Raven picks up his inside breaking route. Washington abandons the sideline and can’t run down Sproles before he makes the end zone.
Antoine Winfield, MIN @ CAR, 2009 WK15, 193 yards on 7 receptions
The usually impressive Winfield actually made the Pro Bowl in this season but he allowed 37% of the yardage he gave up all season in this one game against the Panthers, and the mercurial Steve Smith. The Viking surrendered 193 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions, six of which went to Smith. Unlike most of the people ahead of him on this list, Winfield allowed a far more respectable ratio of targets to completions, his seven catches coming from 12 throws into his coverage.
Biggest play: Gary Barnidge - 55 yards
Winfield gave up the majority of his yardage and catches to Steve Smith, including a 45-yard touchdown catch, but the biggest reception came on a pass to, of all people, TE Gary Barnidge. From his TE spot Barnidge ran a corner route before missed tackles from both Winfield and Vikings safety Tyrell Johnson allowed him ro rumble for 55 yards.
Jerraud Powers, IND @ DEN, 2010 WK3: 192 yards on 11 receptions
Powers has actually developed into a reasonable cornerback, but his early play in Indianapolis was far from competent, as he haemorrhaged yardage at an alarming rate. In this game in 2010 he allowed 11 receptions from a massive 18 targets for 192 yards and a touchdown. Thanks to the zone coverage the Colts run, Powers surrendered a reception to five different receivers including four wide outs. Unlike many of the other receivers in this list, the longest reception Powers gave up was under 50 yards, and only Eddie Royal failed to beat him for significant yardage. Royal managed just four yards from his two catches, and from six targets, while Powers managed a PD on a pass intended for Royal.
Biggest play: Brandon Lloyd – 48 yards, TD
The only touchdown that Powers gave up was a 48-yard reception to Brandon Lloyd early in the third quarter. The Colts are playing zone and the Broncos are able to split the corner and safety and get behind both for a deep touchdown. Brandon Lloyd beats Powers over the top on a double move to the inside and Kyle Orton is able to drop the ball in the back of the end zone over the trailing corner for the score.
Leon Hall, BAL @ CIN, 2008 WK13: 188 yards on 7 receptions
Leon Hall has developed into an excellent corner for the Bengals, but along the way there were some major teething troubles, and at times early in his career he was extremely inconsistent before getting it all together. In 2008 he had what was probably his poorest game as a pro when the Baltimore Ravens exploited him to the tune of 188 yards and two touchdowns. Hall allowed one reception to Todd Heap, but otherwise the damage was done by the Ravens starting receivers at the time, Mark Clayton and Derek Mason. Both of those players have always been very crisp, slick route runners, and on this day they were too much for Hall, each notching a touchdown.
Biggest play: Mark Clayton – 70 yards, TD
The biggest reception Hall allowed in this game was a deep touchdown catch to Mark Clayton that went for 70 yards down the right sideline. Hall was beaten deep before Clayton hauled in a one-handed catch and made his way to the end zone for the score.
Bryant McFadden, GB @ ARZ, 2009 WC: 184 yards on 10 receptions
McFadden was brought over to Arizona from the Steelers by former Steelers coordintor Ken Whisenhunt as an answer to the leaky Cardinals secondary, but as this game demonstrated conclusively, he was well out of his depth as a starter. In perhaps the most obvious display of poor coverage in this list, McFadden gave up a reception to six different Green Bay receivers to allow 10 receptions on 13 targets, while giving up a touchdown to three of them.
Biggest play: Jermichael Finley – 44 yards.
The longest reception McFadden gave up in this game was a 44-yard reception to Jermichael Finley on a play that also saw McFadden called for defensive pass interferecne in his attempt to stop the tight end making the catch. Split wide to the right, Finley runs a slant and go route before Rodgers heaves the ball up to him under pressure. Finley simply out-muscles McFadden to the ball and makes the reception.