If you follow the Steelers Film Room series on BTSC, you know after every win we pin point three plays which certainly changed the tide of the game, and as Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs once said, football games can come down to three or four plays which decide the overall outcome of the contest.
In this feature, we look at three plays in the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field in Week 9. In a back-and-forth game such as this one, it wasn't easy narrowing it down to three plays, but we are confident in the selections.
People who say special teams don't matter much anymore in the modern NFL need to watch the play above. After scoring a touchdown, the Steelers kicked short to force a return by Taiwan Jones. When they did that it was the rookie connection of Roosevelt Nix and Anthony Chickillo who gave the ball right back to the Steelers' offense.
As shown in the play above, the rookie, Nix, continues to make his presence felt as much as possible when he steps on the field. A textbook tackle on the ball carrier, head to the side and helmet on the football, caused the fumble which was recovered by Chickillo. This swing of momentum led to another Steelers' touchdown and extended their lead heading into the fourth quarter.
There are times when a defense isn't playing up to their usual standard, and when that happens it is up to individuals to make plays when they present themselves. Derek Carr didn't make many mistakes in the game Sunday at Heinz Field, but when he did, it was Ross Cockrell taking advantage of the mistake and taking points off the board.
With the Raiders storming back from a two touchdown deficit, Cockrell's play couldn't have come at a better time for a sagging Steelers defense. You see plays like this one get dropped on a weekly basis, but Cockrell has proven he is more than capable of taking the ball away when it is thrown his way.
As was stated earlier, Carr didn't make many mistakes, but he did on this play, and Cockrell's interception certainly turned the tide in the game.
The final play was the back breaker for the Raiders. The proverbial nail in the coffin, but it was so much more than that. On a previous play for a big gain, the Steelers were called for offensive pass interference for running a pick play, or a "rub route", as they call it today. Despite those plays being performed multiple times in every NFL game and never being called, the Steelers didn't shy away from going back to the well one more time, and it worked to perfection.
As Antonio Brown, who thrashed the Raiders every chance he got Sunday, cuts his route in to catch the pass, and Markus Wheaton flows out to disrupt the defense, the play has already gained enough for a first down. Here is where you see just how special Brown is with the ball in his hands. Watch the moment the GIF freezes to illustrate Charles Woodson. Brown should be tackled for a moderate gain after the catch, but he sticks his foot in the ground and changes direction, turning a routine pitch and catch into a back-breaking play which ultimately led to Chris Boswell's game-winning field goal.
Brown is a special athlete, and plays like this, although they sometimes go unnoticed, deserve to be highlighted and show the athletic prowess No. 84 possesses on a week-to-week basis.
The Steelers got away with one against the Raiders. Outside of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams, the Steelers had a very mundane performance Sunday at Heinz Field. No one, other than the aforementioned trio, stood out on the field, but the plays shown here were good enough to give Pittsburgh their 5th win of the season.
Some may call this an "ugly" win, but most would agree it is better to win ugly than to lose and look pretty. These game-changing plays are exactly what the Steelers need to continue to do throughout the 2015 regular season in hopes of securing a spot in the AFC Playoffs.