While the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has, by and large, been a bright spot for the team this year, one area in which they have somewhat consistently failed in 2019 has been with their quick-turnaround performance, when the offense has turned the ball over.
By my count, the offense has turned the ball over 11 times this year, and of those 11 giveaways, nine have come in meaningful scenarios for the opposing team in which they would be looking to score a touchdown. They were successful in doing so seven times. The opposing team scored field goals on the other two.
“The thing that we have to do is when we turn the ball over, we have to make them go up by threes”, said defensive coordinator Keith Butler while talking to the media yesterday, the transcript of the pool interview provided by the Steelers’ media department.
“Can’t let them go up sevens or sixes and make them go the hard way if we have to”, he continued. “My thing is, if we can keep them under 17 points a game, then we have done a decent job. And that is a hard thing to do”.
That is certainly an ambitious goal in this day and age, and something they have only accomplished twice this season—against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Miami Dolphins. They also allowed only 17 points to the Los Angeles Chargers, however.
“For us, defensively, we know that we have to be a big part of this thing in terms of winning and losing”, Butler went on. “We have to play better than we did last week. Each week will be like that. We will have to play better than the last week, this week especially. We didn’t play as good as we wanted to and we still came out with a win against the Colts, we have to play better”.
The offense turned the ball over twice against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, including an interception on the opening drive that put the ball on their own 35. This was one of the rare occasions in which the defense stood up and held the Colts to a field goal. However, Indianapolis was able to net a touchdown off of a fumble later in the game.
The only other real defensive stop off of a quick turnaround the Steelers have had this year
W1 1 INT punt came on the opening drive against the Cincinnati Bengals when Diontae Johnson fumbled and put the ball on the 15-yard line.
The New England Patriots were forced to punt after an interception in Week One, but that was late in the fourth quarter in a blowout. The other giveaway was, of course, the JuJu Smith-Schuster fumble in overtimes against the Baltimore Ravens, which they converted into a game-winning field goal.