The Pittsburgh Steelers were unable to secure the victory in Landry Jones’ first career start against the now 2-5 Kansas City Chiefs, as the team drops to 4-3 after seven games—admittedly, right where they were last season.
There was no bigger culprit behind the loss, not clearer explanation, than that their luck had run out. Entering the week, the Steelers led the league with a +6 turnover differential, largely because they had given the ball up just three times.
They doubled that total today, with Jones throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble late on a sack. One of those interceptions came off a deflection, followed by the receiver inadvertently batting the ball in the air, allowing the safety to swoop in and scoop it off the ground.
Last week, it was the Steelers with the improbably lucky break interception courtesy of a pass deflection and an instinctual and athletic play to pick off the ball. But their luck had gone far beyond that with respect to turnovers.
While Mike Vick only threw one interception in his nearly 60 passes over a three-plus-game span, he threw seven or eight passes that could have, or should have, been intercepted, including at least one in every single game, that could have turned one of those wins into losses.
The Steelers were unable to come up with a turnover against the Chiefs on the defensive side of the ball, either, a week after posting a season-best three turnovers, doing to the Cardinals what the Chiefs did to them today with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Those turnovers bought the Steelers one short field that they quickly converted into a touchdown, as well as a free red zone stop with an interception in the end zone as the offense proceeded to seal the game with an 88-yard touchdown pass, following that interception.
If there was one primary task for the Steelers offense without Ben Roethlisberger, it had to have been the prevention of losing football, and that means not beating yourself by turning the ball over.
For a wounded team, every possession counts, both on offense and defense, and if you give up possessions on offense and add extra ones for your defense, your probability of defeat skyrockets. Of course, the turnover ratio is a strong indicator of victory or defeat no matter what level of personnel is on the field, but it is certainly magnified for a weakened roster.
The hope is that this will have been the last game under which the Steelers offense was managed by Vick or Jones, as the expectation is that Roethlisberger will be well enough to return next week for a crucial divisional matchup against the 6-0 Bengals, who are on a bye this week.
Getting the franchise quarterback back under center will be able to mask many of the flaws that have bubbled to the surface over the course of the past four weeks, but either way, they need to get headed back in the right direction when it comes to turnover ratio.