After Breaking NFL-Best Takeaway Streak, Defense Looking To Start A New One

If there was one thing that the Pittsburgh Steelers defense going for itself in terms of long-term trends, it is the fact that they have actually—surprisingly—been able to turn the ball over some. In fact, entering Sunday’s game, they had by a comfortable margin the longest streak of game in which they were able to intercept a pass or recover a fumble, reaching 15 or 16 games.

In spite of an overall quite solid defensive effort against the Chiefs, however, that streak did end, and in fairness to the Pittsburgh defense, Kansas City in seven games now has literally only turned the ball over one time this entire season, and that was on the first play of the year. They’ve gone well over 400 snaps without anybody turning the ball over.

Regardless of the qualifiers in justifying the end of that streak, though, the Steelers will be looking to start a new one today against the Bengals, a team that through five games has already compiled a minus-seven turnover differential, impressively enough.

Impressively bad, that is, for the record.

Quarterback Andy Dalton has thrown seven interceptions in his first five games, although, like Ben Roethlisberger, the majority of them all came in one game. He threw four interceptions in the first game of the season against the Ravens. But he did have two interceptions against the Bills in the game prior to their bye—a game that they won.

Dalton has also lost a couple of fumbles, as have others, resulting in the Bengals having had to try to dig themselves out of a number of turnover-induced holes early in the season. And the Steelers would love to put them in a similar position as many times as they possibly can today in Pittsburgh.

Not that Pittsburgh itself has been a turnover machine, and, in fact, thanks largely due to Roethlisberger’s eight interceptions, the Steelers also find themselves in a deficit with respect to the turnover margin, with a minus-two turnover differential overall.

Ryan Shazier has continued his intercepting ways, nabbing two of them over the course of the past three games. Mike Hilton, T.J. Watt, and J.J. Wilcox each have one as well. Perhaps it is notable that each of those three are new additions to the team this year.

Others have come close, but missed. William Gay and Mike Mitchell have had interception opportunities that they could not capitalize on. Sean Davis against the Chiefs made a fantastic play to pick the receiver’s pocket in the end zone to break up the pass, but nearly intercepted that as well.

The Steelers have, I believe, recovered three fumbles, Shazier, Artie Burns, and Cameron Heyward being the ones doing the recovering. Shazier has forced two, Heyward one, and Gay another. Vance McDonald forced one on special teams.

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