Steelers Throwback Thursday: 3 favorite Ike Taylor moments
Steel City Underground takes fans back in time to feature events, special moments, and historical times and players in the world of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steelers Nation. Join us as we revisit these moments in our “Steelers Throwback Thursday” series.
With the release of jersey numbers for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2023 NFL Draft class, it felt like the perfect time to look back at a former Steelers defensive back who recently spoke about newly-drafted Pittsburgh cornerback Joey Porter, Jr. choosing to wear his number: Ike Taylor.
Ivan “Ike” Taylor, drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft, spent his entire 12-year career in the Steel City after playing college football at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Taylor had some spectacular performances on the field, including two Super Bowl Championship wins. Today, we time travel to three favorite moments from Taylor’s career.
Super Bowl XL Interception
Taylor wasn’t necessarily known as an interception machine during his NFL career, despite being the Steelers’ “CB1” for the majority of that time. On a cold night in Detroit (Michigan), signs seemed to point to the Seattle Seahawks’ dominating offense being able to orchestrate a comeback and possible win over the Steelers.
At the Pittsburgh 27-yard line, with 10:54 left on the game clock, and down 10-14, Seattle lined up to try to convert a third-and-18 yard play. Quarterback Matt Hassleback took the snap, dropped back, and unloaded to receiver Darrell Jackson.
The ball sailed, however, and Taylor’s often unsteady hands secured it for the pick.
Behind Deshea Townsend, Taylor made his way down the sideline and was only stopped when Hassleback made the tackle after a 19-yard return.
A mere four plays later, Antwaan Randle El was given the ball from Ben Roethlisberger on a trick flea flicker and threw the victory-sealing touchdown to Hines Ward. The Steelers were awarded their fifth Lombardi Trophy, and Super Bowl championship, as a result.
“Super Bowls change lives,”Taylor told Bleav Network’s Mark Bergin. He described the events leading up to and the subsequent game as a “red carpet moment.”
Related: Super Boxl XL Highlights (video)
First career INT was against the G.O.A.T.
As a “sophomore”, during the 2004 NFL season, Taylor started off listed as the Steelers’ fifth cornerback on the depth chart behind Townsend, Chad Scott, Willie Williams, and Ricardo Colclough. In Week 6, Scott tore a quadriceps muscle and was sidelined for nine games, opening the door for Taylor to be the fourth corner.
In Week 8, Taylor stepped into his new role against the New England Patriots by earning his first career interception against consensus future Hall of Fame quarterback and highly-regarded G.O.A.T. Tom Brady.
Taylor added a pass deflection and two combined tackles on his way to aiding the Steelers in a 34-20 victory in that game and finished his second pro season with 16 combined tackles (ten solo), four pass deflections, and an interception in 13 games and one start. He also had 12 kick returns for 184 yards.
Redemptive 2008 season ends in Super Bowl win
In 2006, the Steelers made Taylor the highest paid cornerback in franchise history (four-year, $22.5 million contract that included a signing bonus of $6.4 million that would tie him to the team through 2010). Unfortunately, a poor outing in Week 9 resulted in Taylor being passed-up by Bryant McFadden; coach Bill Cowher demoted Taylor permanently to “CB3” in Week 12.
In 2007, Taylor fought back to a starting spot opposite Townsend under newly-hired head coach Mike Tomlin. Taylor completed that season with 80 combined tackles (69 solo), 16 pass deflections, three interceptions, a sack, and a touchdown in 16 games and 16 starts.
2008 was arguably a top-tier season in Taylor’s career. His play helped the Steelers finish first in the AFC North with a 12–4 record, clinching a first round bye and eventual Super Bowl championship.
Taylor recorded just one interception during the regular season, but posted his third-highest career pass defenses (15), and 65 combined tackles. Many times, Taylor was tasked with shutting down Pittsburgh’s opponents’ top receiver.
The Steelers defeated the San Diego Chargers, 35–24, in the AFC Divisional Round and the Baltimore Ravens, 23–14, in the AFC Championship Game. Then, on February 1 (2009) Taylor started in Super Bowl XLIII and recorded eight combined tackles during the Steelers’ 27–23 victory against the Arizona Cardinals.
If Porter Jr. plays in jersey number 24 like Taylor did, the Steelers should be excited about their defensive backfield in 2023 and into the near future.