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Steelers snap totals vs. the Raiders show a defensive emphasis on sub packages

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The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Oakland Raiders in Week 9 at Heinz Field Sunday, but looking back at the snap totals of the game can be revealing in terms of who played, and who didn't.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't always pretty for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field Sunday, but when it mattered the most, plays were made. Most will turn to Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger and DeAngelo Wiliams as the genuine difference makers in this game, but the defense had to stand up and make plays when it counted too.

When reviewing the snap totals for the Steelers following the game, looking at the defensive numbers certainly reveals a lot in regards to the team's feelings about Cam Thomas, as well as Keith Butler's game plan heading into this game.

The Raiders possess a very young and talented offense led by Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, but what might be even more impressive about the offense is their offensive line. The Steelers clearly wanted to deploy their nickel and dime sub packages as often as possible, to protect their secondary in the back half of the defense. This would be one of the reasons Steve McLendon played a mere 12 snaps, Daniel McCullers just 4 and Cam Thomas 0 on Sunday. Yes, Thomas did not play a defensive snap in the Week 9 game.

Compound such facts with Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt both playing 100-percent of the defensive snaps and you see what the team was trying to do defensively to slow down the Raiders. It was surprising to see Tuitt, who had missed the past two games with a knee sprain, play every defensive snap, and fatigue could have been a factor in the lack of pass rush and run stopping in the second half of the game.

The Steelers chose not to spell Tuitt or Heyward, who just welcomed his first child Saturday, with McLendon or Thomas, and you have to ask if this was an issue along the defensive front.

Other than the defensive front, it was also interesting to see Roosevelt Nix get his most offensive snaps of the year (29) as the Steelers focused on a more power running game with a lead blocker. It certainly paid off with DeAngelo Williams rushing for over 170 yards on the day.

Check out the complete list of Steelers Snap Counts below, courtesy of Pro-Football Reference.

Steelers Snap Counts

Off. Def. ST
Pos Num Pct Num Pct Num Pct
Ramon Foster G 85 100% 0 0% 7 19%
Alejandro Villanueva T 85 100% 0 0% 7 19%
Marcus Gilbert T 85 100% 0 0% 7 19%
David DeCastro G 85 100% 0 0% 7 19%
Antonio Brown WR 85 100% 0 0% 1 3%
Cody Wallace C 85 100% 0 0% 0 0%
Heath Miller TE 84 99% 0 0% 7 19%
DeAngelo Williams RB 80 94% 0 0% 0 0%
Ben Roethlisberger QB 73 86% 0 0% 0 0%
Martavis Bryant WR 41 48% 0 0% 0 0%
Markus Wheaton WR 40 47% 0 0% 0 0%
Jesse James TE 33 39% 0 0% 6 16%
Roosevelt Nix FB 29 34% 0 0% 26 70%
Darrius Heyward-Bey WR 22 26% 0 0% 18 49%
Landry Jones QB 12 14% 0 0% 0 0%
Chris Hubbard G 7 8% 0 0% 0 0%
Jordan Todman RB 3 4% 0 0% 7 19%
Will Johnson FB 1 1% 0 0% 18 49%
Stephon Tuitt DE 0 0% 70 104% 12 32%
Cameron Heyward DE 0 0% 70 104% 11 30%
Lawrence Timmons LB 0 0% 70 104% 5 14%
Antwon Blake CB 0 0% 68 101% 12 32%
Will Allen SS 0 0% 68 101% 9 24%
William Gay CB 0 0% 68 101% 5 14%
Michael Mitchell FS 0 0% 66 99% 5 14%
Ryan Shazier LB 0 0% 64 96% 8 22%
Ross Cockrell CB 0 0% 56 84% 1 3%
James Harrison LB 0 0% 39 58% 5 14%
Bud Dupree LB 0 0% 38 57% 13 35%
Arthur Moats LB 0 0% 32 48% 11 30%
Steve McLendon NT 0 0% 12 18% 5 14%
Robert Golden FS 0 0% 6 9% 27 73%
Sean Spence LB 0 0% 6 9% 26 70%
Daniel McCullers NT 0 0% 4 6% 0 0%
Vince Williams LB 0 0% 2 3% 26 70%
Shamarko Thomas SS 0 0% 0 0% 26 70%
Brandon Boykin CB 0 0% 0 0% 20 54%
Chris Boswell K 0 0% 0 0% 15 41%
Jordan Berry P 0 0% 0 0% 12 32%
Jacoby Jones WR 0 0% 0 0% 12 32%
Greg Warren LS 0 0% 0 0% 12 32%
Anthony Chickillo LB 0 0% 0 0% 8 22%
Doug Legursky C 0 0% 0 0% 7 19%
Sammie Coates WR 0 0% 0 0% 6 16%
Cam Thomas DE 0 0% 0 0% 1 3%