So apparently it’s been a really long time since the Pittsburgh Steelers last had four interceptions in a game, as they did last night. You would have to go back more than two decades, all the way to December of 1995 to find the last time the defense was able to match that feat.
In that game, in Oakland, the defense picked off Billy Joe Hobert four times, though unfortunately I would have to do more research than I have time for to find out who actually picked off those passes, since there was no Game Pass then, and Pro Football Reference didn’t log individual interceptions apparently unless they were touchdowns.
They have gotten three interceptions in a game several times between now and then, but it’s still been a while. The last time that happened was in the 2010 season in a Week 17 game against the Browns, with Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, and Anthony Madison all getting a piece of Colt McCoy.
They were able to intercept three passes twice in 2009, and twice again in 2006 and in 2002, yet in no other year between now and 1995 did they do it even once. Which seems fairly odd to me. You would think that it might happen about once per season, but maybe I’m overestimating.
Still, it was great to see it all come from the secondary, and against Marcus Mariota, who had never thrown more than two interceptions in a game in his admittedly young career. Cornerbacks Coty Sensabaugh and Mike Hilton, and safeties Robert Golden and Sean Davis, all got their hands on a pass in this game. Except for Hilton, that was the first of the year for each.
And those passes were not simply intercepted. They were returned for chunks of yardage. Hilton’s interception got things started, picked off at midfield and returned 26 yards to the Titans’ 24-yard line. That led to a field goal and a 10-0 lead.
Late in the first half, Sensabaugh, his former teammate, jumped a route Mariota was looking for, snagging it on his own 48 and returning it 32 yards to the Titans’ 20-yard line. Again, the offense could only turn it into a field goal, but that’s house money.
The Steelers got to the young quarterback again twice in the fourth quarter, Artie Burns tipping a pass that was claimed by Golden. His was the lone interception that wasn’t greeted with a long return, as he was tackled right away near midfield, but the offense turned that into another three points.
Finally, Davis shut the door on the game with an interception returned for 41 yards to the 22-yard line. While the game way already in hand, it was something of an exclamation mark on what hopefully most people will be able to accept as a good night for the team.