I don’t know if you caught this toward the end of last night’s broadcast, but what the Pittsburgh Steelers did on defense last night was pretty rare. The defense recorded four interceptions in the game, which is the first time that they did so since 1995. They also recorded five sacks.
According to their own research, the last time that the Steelers managed to accomplish both feats in the same game was all the way back in 1984, on an October 1 game against broadcaster Chris Collinsworth’s Cincinnati Bengals. Dick LeBeau was also their defensive coordinator at that time.
Poor Ken Anderson, who was Ben Roethlisberger’s quarterbacks coach for years, was actually picked off five times. According to Pro Football Reference, both Donnie Shell and Dwayne Woodruff got to him twice, returning one apiece for a score, and Sam Washington added another.
He was also brought down for six sacks, with Mike Merriweather getting three on his own. Bryan Hinkle also recorded a pair of sacks, and Keith Gary added another. This five-pick, six-sack game was pure dominance, yet, as last night, the Bengals still scored 17, while the Steelers scored 38.
From what I can gather out of the aforementioned website’s database, the last team to record at least four interceptions and five sacks in the same game was the 2012 Green Bay Packers, who beat the Bears 23-10 in September that year. They recorded four interceptions and brought the quarterback down seven times.
The Rams also did it in that same year, in December, against the Buccaneers, recording the exact totals as the Steelers from last night. Overall, there are 36 such games in their database going back to 1982, when the sack became an official statistic, but I know that the query finder is incomplete, since the 1984 Steelers game does not register for whatever reason.
But I’m still pretty confident in saying that it is a relatively uncommon occurrence, showing up on average about once a year or so. After all, four interceptions is quite a haul, and pairing it with five sacks at the same time requires some luck.
Of course, this is a pretty quirky and random statistic, and it’s not particularly important that the Steelers have not recorded this specific stat line more often or in the past 30-plus years. The simple point is that they got an awful lot of splash out of their defense, the most in quite a while.
In order to refresh your memory, four different members of the secondary recorded an interception, namely Mike Hilton, Coty Sensabaugh, Robert Golden, and Sean Davis. The former three set up field goals, the latter sealing the game.
The five sacks were recorded by Cameron Heyward—who had two—, Stephon Tuitt, Vince Williams, and L.T. Walton. Heyward now has seven on the season, Williams six, Tuitt two, and for Walton, it was the first of his career.