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Steelers Film Room: Fundamental tackling equates to forced fumbles for Pittsburgh vs. Oakland

The Pittsburgh Steelers' defense may have surrendered 35 points against the Oakland Raiders, but it also forced four fumbles. We take a look at the sound tackling that led to those plays.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have long forged their reputation through hard hitting football as they punish opposing players on the defensive side of the ball. While some fans get critical of the team's missed tackles, overall this season Pittsburgh has done a solid job of putting down ball carriers before they could turn plays into bigger gains.

Sunday against the Oakland Raiders showed several hard hits from the Steelers across the board, but also noticeable were the fundamentals of the Steelers in their tackling that led to the team forcing four fumbles against the Raiders. We take a look at three of those hits and the solid form showed from multiple players.

First Play:

This play is created by a combination of successful efforts on the part of the Steelers' defense. Notice how the Raiders pull their left guard and tight end to be lead blockers on this play with the design to get Murray isolated with a one-on-one opportunity with Antwon Blake. While the guard does take Bud Dupree out of the play, Will Allen takes on the block and sheds it, giving Murray no room to make a move on Blake, who puts his helmet right on the ball to force a fumble.

Second Play:

This play could have been the ultimate game-changer had Mitchell been able to get his second foot in bounds before he recovered the football and ran it in for a touchdown. Still, this is a very solid hit on the part of Ryan Shazier who hits with his helmet on the ball and wraps up Murray to prevent him from going anywhere. This is a perfect from tackle on the part of Shazier to force a fourth down which the Steelers would later use to block a Raiders' punt.

Third Play:

This was the hit that changed everything. The crowd at Heinz Field was pumped up from hearing the defense's anthem, Renegade by Styx, blasted across the stadium speakers. Renegade has a history of amping up the Steelers' defense and in the subsequent drive from hearing Renegade, the team has often forced a turnover in a big situation. On Sunday, the Steelers' didn't even wait for the defense to take the field. The song was played immediately after Ben Roethlisberger tossed a touchdown and the special teams came out to deliver.

Roosevelt Nix continues to be one of the more valuable acquisitions of the offseason, outside of DeAngelo Williams, with his consistently powerful blocking, as well as special teams tackles like this one. Nix puts his helmet right on the returner's ball-carrying elbow and wraps up his legs to makes sure that even if there's not a fumble that the play would be dead. A solid recovery from Anthony Chickilo allows the Steelers to take possession inside the Raiders red zone and open up a 14-point lead.


The Steelers' defense has been a great deal more fun to watch than what most people expected in 2015, and it has been much needed with the devastating injuries which have befallen the offense at numerous positions. When you don't have the fastest players in the world or the best cover players in the NFL, it pays a lot more to have fundamental tackling and hard-hitting plays from your defense.