After failing to record a single turnover in the first two games of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have now gone seven consecutive games with recording at least one turnover. In fact, they have even scored three touchdowns directly off of turnovers, twice on the interception and once on a fumble recovery on a punt.
The Steelers, in fact, have averaged nearly two turnovers per game since then, and now have 13 turnovers on the season, including seven interceptions and six fumble recoveries, including the one on special teams.
They are now on a pace to record 23 turnovers for the 2014 season, which isn’t bad at all, considering their recent history in this category. Given the upward trend—seven of their turnovers have come in the last three games—it’s conceivable that the number could be even higher by year’s end.
And turnovers, as they often are, have proven time and again to be catalysts for the Steelers this season, edging them on to greater success. Below are just a few of the notable examples from this season.
In Week Three, against the Carolina Panthers, the Steelers had gone eight consecutive quarters over a three game span without recording a touchdown. Then, early in the third quarter, Jarvis Jones forced the ball out of the quarterback’s hands on a sack, with the Steelers recovering. They soon put the ball in the end zone en route to a 28-point second half.
Two weeks ago, against the Houston Texans, the visiting team jumped out to an early 13-0 lead, scoring on their first three possessions. It took the Steelers most of the first half to respond with a touchdown of their own.
Then the Texans returner muffed the ensuing kickoff, only to recover on the four-yard line. Jason Worids forced Arian Foster to fumble, and Antonio Brown found Lance Moore in the end zone a short time later. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception on the next play, and the Steelers added yet another touchdown before halftime.
And then just this past Sunday, after the Baltimore Ravens had gotten out to a quick 10-0 lead, the wave of momentum suddenly shifted after Arthur Moats stripped the ball from the running back’s arms on a four-yard carry. Brice McCain recovered and returned it to the 27-yard line, and after a few plays, Ben Roethlisberger found Le’Veon Bell in the end zone for the touchdown.
On the second play of the Ravens’ next possession, James Harrison pressured Joe Flacco on a first down play. As he attempted to throw the ball away, he failed to get enough distance on the pass, leaving it hanging for Worilds to intercept and return 30 yards to the 30-yard line. Three plays later, it was Martavis Bryant from 19 yards out for the score.
In the NFL, games can change at the drop of a hat—or more accurately, a football. The Steelers have been first-hand witnesses to that on a few occasions this year, serving as a reminder of just how important it can be to turn the ball over, now that they have been doing so.