Mike Wallace possesses blazing speed that few in the NFL can match.
Wallace, a second-year wide receiver out of Ole Miss, has quickly turned into the Steelers’ biggest offensive weapon.
He’s a true big-play artist, as he caught just 60 passes this season, but turned that into a monster campaign. Wallace posted 1,257 receiving yards (fifth-best in the league) and 10 receiving touchdowns (tied for seventh-best).
He also averaged a ridiculous 21 yards per reception this year, ranking behind only the Eagles’ DeSean Jackson in that category, and was a beast down the stretch for Pittsburgh, putting up an average of 96 receiving yards per game over his last nine contests.
Against the Ravens, however, Wallace has been fairly quiet.
He caught seven balls for just 100 yards in his two games against Baltimore this season, numbers which can largely be attributed to the play of Webb, the Ravens’ second-year cornerback.
In the Ravens’ first matchup with the Steelers, Webb was a step or two behind Wallace on a few plays deep down the field, but used his incredible speed (Webb ran a 4.3 40-yard dash prior to tearing his ACL last year) to catch up with Wallace, who runs a 4.33 himself.
“Lardarius can run, for one thing, and Mike can run, so that helps,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “Lardarius is very athletic. I think he’s getting more and more healthy with the knee. That’s helped him. He’s playing with really good technique. He’s been very disciplined. So, if he can continue to grow and play that way, he should be fine.”
Don’t let Webb hear you talk about how he’s held Wallace in check, however. Whether it’s because he’s superstitious, modest or just simply has a desire to stay focused on the task at hand, Webb doesn’t care to discuss his success against the Steelers’ top wideout.
“It don’t mean nothing at all,” Webb said. “I can’t even think about all those times. I don’t even want you to bring it up. It’s big time now, it’s a different game. It’s the playoffs. After this game, I hope you can say the same. I don’t even want to talk about it.
“He’s a great wide receiver. I did okay against him but not as well as everybody wants to say. How we graded it out I did OK. He’s a great receiver.”
Still, Webb knows that his speed is something that not many corners can bring to the table, and he acknowledges that might give him a little bit of an edge.
“It’s very important, especially against Mike Wallace,” Webb said. “You’re going to need some makeup speed because his speed is a little different to me. (He’s got) DeSean Jackson speed. They’ve got totally different speed. I’ve only seen one other person to run like that and that’s Johnny Knox. They flyin’.”