Wouldn’t you know it? The Pittsburgh Steelers have a very good postseason record when they are able to win the turnover battle. In 58 previous playoff games, they have recorded more takeaways than they have giveaways 21 times. In that sample size, they have won every game but one, the 2002 Divisional Round loss to the Titans in overtime.
Overall, they have a 20-1 record in the postseason when they post a positive turnover differential, and that includes last week’s victory over the Dolphins, in which the defense recorded three takeaways, including two forced fumbles, while the offense contributed two interceptions into the equation.
In addition to the 21 games in which they were able to win the turnover battle, they also at least drew even on 10 occasions. In those 10 games, however, they only managed to compile a 4-6 record—including their one pre-merger playoff game—including four consecutive losses in such games, most recently the 2011 Wildcard Round loss to the Broncos. The last such game before that was two decades ago.
The Steelers have, surprisingly, actually very frequently lost the turnover battle during the postseason. 27 times, in fact, has their offense or special-teams units recorded more giveaways than their defense or special-teams units recorded takeaways, which accounts for nearly 47 percent of their total postseason history. They have lost the turnover battle more frequently than they have won it.
As you might anticipate, they have a losing record in this field, although it is not quite as bad as it might initially sound. In all, they have posted a 11-16 record in postseason contests in which they have recorded a negative turnover differential. Considering the strong correlation between winning the turnover battle and winning the game, that’s not such a bad winning percentage of .407.
Unfortunately, they have not done so well recently in the postseason when they have given the ball up more than they have taken it away. During their 2015 season Divisional Round loss to the Broncos, they turned the ball just once while never taking it back. That one turnover proved to be most costly indeed, as you might recall.
During the Ben Roethlisberger era, the Steelers have recorded a negative turnover differential nine times. While they have an overall 4-5 record in such games, they have lost four of their last five under Mike Tomlin dating back to his inaugural season in 2007.
In 18 prior postseason games, the Steelers are 12-6 with Roethlisberger under center. They are 7-0 when they win the turnover battle, 4-5 when they lose it, and 0-1 when they tie. So, as you might guess, it’s a pretty good idea to have ball security on offense while creating splash plays on defense for your Captain Obvious alert of the day.
But here’s something that might be useful in today’s road playoff game versus the Chiefs. In 27 prior road or neutral-site games, they have posted an 8-1 record when winning the turnover battle; 3-3 when they tie; and 3-9 when they lose the turnover battle.