Passes kept sailing over his head to receivers he didn't seem to know were there.
It was a nightmarish game for Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen. So much so, it's hard to guess which game is being described in the last line. Allen went from contract-extension recipient to nickel cornerback to reserve cornerback within the span of eight games. The law of averages strongly favors injury replacements during the season, and it's hitting the Steelers particularly hard on the defensive side of the ball.
Allen needs only to wait and his opportunity to contribute on the defense (he plays only on special teams now) will come soon.
"I just have to keep working and be ready when that time comes," Allen told Tribune Review writer Mark Kaboly recently. "You have to move past it and be honest with yourself so that you can work on the things that you need to take care of."
The Steelers have lost Jarvis Jones and Ike Taylor for substantial portions of this season. They've lost Ryan Shazier for multiple games multiple times. Troy Polamalu will miss his second game of the season when the Steelers take on the Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Monday. So will Steve McLendon. That puts at least one starter from each of the Steelers' position groups - defensive line, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, cornerback and safety - out for at least two games out of 11. While the injuries suggest less opportunity for bench players as soon as they return - the Steelers are hoping Polamalu can return after their Week 12 bye and that's a possibility for Taylor and Jones as well - there's no guarantee they won't return in different forms to different players.
That's what Allen is working for now. Not hoping his teammate gets hurt but simply staying prepared if and when it happens. Allen showed flashes of outstanding play this season, having notched two interceptions to lead the team at the time of his demotion.
If Taylor is able to play come in Week 13, it likely would push Allen even further down the depth chart, but each week brings him a new chance to practice well enough to steal back a few snaps.
If that's all he has to work for right now, he has plenty because battling in the most competitive division in the NFL, the winner might not be determined until the end of Week 17.