Safety Reggie Nelson was one of six nominees for AFC Defensive Player of the Week after generating two interceptions during Cincinnati's 16-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The weekly defensive award was given to Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe, who had a significant hand in holding Green Bay to only 140 net yards during Sunday Night's battle of unbeatens.
Nelson, who posted two interceptions and five tackles last week, secured a Pro Football Focus score of +3.6, his best of the season, tops among all Bengals defenders and sixth-best among all safeties in the NFL for Week 8.
Nelson's first interception occurred with 11:56 remaining in the third quarter as Pittsburgh faced third-and-five from their own 22-yard line. The imposing Nelson showed blitz before backpedaling into cover one as the center fielder. Roethlisberger, who watched Dre Kirkpatrick momentarily lose his balanced, launched the football downfield, targeting Antonio Brown. Nelson tracked the fly to deep right center field, after running and intercepting the football.
Nelson returned the interception 37 yards to the Steelers 33-yard line. Unfortunately, a quarterback sack, illegal peelback on Andre Smith and an incomplete put Cincinnati into a third-and-34 situation. The Bengals punted after a seven-yard dump off.
It wasn't until the 2:57 mark in the fourth that Nelson made his most impressionable impact. Cincinnati took a 13-10 lead with less than three minutes remaining. Pittsburgh's ensuing possession began from their own 20-yard line when Roethlisberger floated an intermediate pass down the left hash marks (with peripheral pressure from Wallace Gilberry). The pass sailed over Brown where the instinctual great one, Reggie Nelson caught the football.
The impact was significant on a number of fronts: This turnover wiped out a minute from the clock, forced Pittsburgh to use two timeouts and resulted in Mike Nugent's 44-yard conversion with 1:51 remaining in the game, giving Cincinnati a six-point lead and forcing Pittsburgh to score a touchdown for the win.
Spoiler Alert: Pittsburgh didn't score a touchdown.
Kevin Huber was also a nominee for AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, placing three of four punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line, all of which resulted in zero return yards.