In all of the Bengals' first five games, the safety had at least one tackle attempt that he ole'd, letting an opposing ball carrier either run right by or right through him. In the Week 2 game against San Diego alone he had three missed tackles, although none of them ultimately hurt the team.
Likewise, his missed stop on Thomas Rawls' 69-yard run for the Seahawks nine days ago didn't lead to a loss, although it easily could have. The Bengals stormed back from down 17 in the fourth quarter of that game to win in overtime.
Plays like that one, where Rawls just slipped right out of Nelson's grasp, prompted the defensive back to push all last week for better individual tackling ahead of the Bengals' visit to Buffalo this past Sunday. Apparently the push paid off.
"My biggest thing was just tackle and get us to the next down," Nelson said. "It always is the emphasis every week to tackle, though. That's how we get off the field on third downs and continue to play."
Nelson was credited with a game-high 12 tackles in Sunday's game against the Bills. According to Pro Football Focus, he didn't miss a single tackle. Some came deep downfield after he started in coverage, others came near the line of scrimmage on running plays. One came in the backfield as Nelson shot quickly through a hole close to the goal line to bring down Bills rusher LeSean McCoy for a 1-yard loss.
Asked repeatedly about that play, Nelson simply smiled and said, "It was a good play call by Paulie," referring to Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.
"I definitely didn't want to miss the layup," Nelson added. "I was glad to get that tackle and get us to the next down."
Unfortunately for the Bengals, the next down -- a third down -- resulted in Bills quarterback EJ Manuel scrambling right and into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run to complete the game's opening drive with a score. Nelson had come off the field just before that play.
Touchdowns aside, Nelson's better tackling was evident. When the Bengals resume their season following this week's bye, he will be charged with keeping up performances like Sunday's.
"I've got to continue that as a leader on this team," Nelson said. "It can't just be every other week, it's got to be every week."