Breaking down the tape: Nix leading the way

A look back at the Steelers' 38-35 victory over the Raiders via the magic of the DVR:


NIX IS THE ONE:** The Steelers are as identifiable by their three-wide receivers, one-tight end, one-running back sets as any. But against Oakland FB Roosevelt Nix was a regular participant in two-back alignments that eventually shredded the Raiders.

Nix had averaged 7.25 offensive snaps through the Steelers' first eight games.

But against Oakland he lined up in front of RB DeAngelo Williams, either directly, slightly to Williams' left or slightly to the right 20 times.

Williams gained 142 of his 170 rushing yards and scored one of his two rushing touchdowns with Nix lined up in the backfield.

Williams averaged 7.1 yards per carry with Nix in close proximity and 4.0 yards on seven other attempts.

Nix had played as many as 10 snaps in a game only twice previously (11 on Oct. 18 against Arizona and 10 on Oct. 25 at Kansas City).

He had seen the field for eight offensive snaps on Nov. 1 against Cincinnati.

"I'm not sure if he played more fullback or not," Williams said of Nix. "I spend most of my time looking at the linebackers and the secondary, trying to see where I'm going to run."

Williams ran by those Oakland linebackers and into that Raiders' secondary through a hole sealed off by Nix on one side and guard David DeCastro on the other on what became a 53-yard burst.

Nix was also on the field for a 22-yard jaunt by Williams.

"Me and DeAngelo have a good relationship," Nix said. "We have a lot of plays. I just do my job, if he breaks, he breaks."


Check out the highlight photos from the Steelers vs Raiders game. The Steelers defeated the Raiders 38-35 on November 8th 2015.

CATCH AND RUN:** The Raiders came to town with a well-deserved reputation for accumulating yards after the catch. But the Steelers thought they might be able to pile up a few of their own based on Oakland's affinity for one-on-one pass coverage and stacking the box against the run.

The Steelers wound up throwing for 402 net yards passing, 203 of which were generated after the catch.

"There were going to be opportunities to run after the catch if the guy in coverage doesn't make the tackle," head coach Mike Tomlin said in retrospect.

That proved to be the case on what became the biggest play of the game.

CB David Amerson was unable to make the tackle after a 4-yard pass to WR Antonio Brown on third-and-2 from the Steelers' 28-yard line with 55 seconds left in regulation and the game tied at 28-28. And Brown, thanks in part to a little post-catch contact on Amerson by WR Markus Wheaton, was able to scamper for 53 after-the-catch yards to the Raiders' 15.

Brown wound up with 117 of his 284 receiving yards being piled up after a catch. For Williams it was 53 of 55 yards and for Martavis Bryant it was 20 of 31, including all 14 on a 14-yard catch-and-run flanker screen for a touchdown. Even TE Heath Miller got into the after-the-catch act (13 of his 32 receiving yards were gained in that fashion).

You gotta love it when a plan comes together.

LEFT ON THE FIELD: The Steelers finished with 597 total net yards, but that total would have been even more bloated if not for yards left on the field via drops, overthrows, underthrows, miscommunications and tough catches that weren't able to be made.

Maybe next time.

The most obvious instances of yards there for the taking that ultimately weren't taken were a juggling non-catch by Bryant that might have otherwise gone for an 86-yard touchdown and a 59-yard completion to Brown that could have gone for 83 and a TD had Brown not had to slow up for the ball.

The Steelers eventually picked up some of the yards not gained in those situations on subsequent snaps, but not all of them.

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