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Steelers secondary remains confident

Before the Steelers get too far into the season and the criticism starts erupting in waves toward the cornerbacks — Oops, too late! — Chad Scott has something to say:

“I know I’m good,” said Scott, who allowed three receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. “I can play. I can play against any receiver, against anybody in the league.”

Cornerbacks must have thick skin, short memories and supreme confidence in the face of all evidence — no matter how indicting it may be — and Scott has plenty of all three characteristics.

“I’m a pro,” he said. “I deal with criticism.”

As a Steelers cornerback, it’s nothing new.

The Steelers’ pass defense has risen from 20th in the NFL last year to No. 2 (No. 1 in the AFC), but there is little tangible proof. While the team stumbled to a 2-2 start, it allowed one touchdown pass in each of the first three games and then three by Titans quarterback Steve McNair.

Overall, the defense did not play poorly against the Titans, allowing only 198 yards. It gave up big plays at crucial times, but was put in bad position by the offense. Quarterback Tommy Maddox threw two interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown and another brought back to the 1-yard line in a 30-13 defeat.

Asked if the pass defense is getting better, strong safety Mike Logan, who has replaced the much-maligned Lee Flowers, said: “It’s hard to say right now. But we believe in everybody out there that we are playing with. We’ll see in the next couple weeks.

“After we looked at the tape, we felt like the secondary was in good position to make plays. We just didn’t make them.”

Scott was chief among the culprits. He gave up 29-, 25- and 42-yard receptions to wide receiver Justin McCareins, nearly 60 percent of the Titans’ total, but came out of the game mentally unscathed.

“There’s not a person in the world or a corner in the league who is perfect,” he said. “Anybody can get beat on any given day and anything can happen.”

Scott has not been consistently bad this season. He is one of nine cornerbacks in the NFL to return an interception for a touchdown — his fourth since 2001 — and he tipped a pass in Cincinnati last week that led to Jason Gildon’s interception.

“How many corners have interceptions for touchdowns?” he said. “Not many.”

But he also has been called for pass interference three times for a loss of 65 yards.

“The only thing that is a little frustrating to me as a defensive back,” he said, “is anytime there is contact up the field, if the receiver catches the ball, it’s not a problem. But if the receiver doesn’t catch the ball, then it’s a flag on the defense.”

Scott also said McCareins got away with offensive pass interference twice, including the 29-yard touchdown.

“He grabbed me with both hands,” Scott said. “If I would have touched him with two hands, it would have been a flag.”

He said McCareins beat him to the 42-yard reception — essentially a jump ball in the middle of the field — while Scott was consciously trying not to make contact.

“I wanted to make sure I was going for the ball, and he made a good play,” he said.

“That’s just life. There are good days and bad days. You take the good with the bad and keep on moving. The game is over.”

While starting preparations for the next game Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, he has one more message for his critics:

“I’m going to make a couple more touchdowns and interceptions this year,” he said, “and then they can criticize all they want.”


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