When the Pittsburgh Steelers took the field during crunch time last year, the question they asked themselves was, how are we going to get the turnover? This year, largely through results, the question has shifted. Now it’s not so much how, but when…and who.
All of last season, the Steelers only recorded 15 takeaways, which was the lowest in the franchise’s history since…I don’t even remember when, but suffice it to say it was a lone time ago. They have already doubled that number in 2019, with three games to add to the total, perhaps coming in around 40 by the end of the season.
“It’s way different”, outside linebacker Bud Dupree said of the mentality of the group this year. “Now it’s about who’s gonna get the turnover. All 11 guys on the field are capable of making plays, so it’s more so who’s gonna step up in that moment and make the turnover. Is it gonna be a front five guy, is it gonna be a secondary guy? We take pride in that. We want to keep it going and keep it alive for the rest of these three games we have for this season, and hopefully into the playoffs”.
Dupree himself has forced four fumbles this season and recovered two of them on his own. Minkah Fitzpatrick has five interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and a forced fumble. T.J. Watt has forced five fumbles, recovered three, and intercepted two passes. Devin Bush also has two interceptions, plus a forced fumble and four recoveries. Then there’s Joe Haden, with four interceptions and a forced fumble.
There are guys getting the volume, but there have been contributors everywhere. Guys like Cameron Sutton and Kameron Kelly and Mark Barron have come down with interceptions this season. Amazingly, the only two players without a forced fumble or interception this year among the starters are Steven Nelson and Terrell Edmunds.
As for Watt, he doesn’t believe the mentality of the group is different from last year—though the psyche may be. They’re simply doing a better job. “I think the execution is probably what’s different. If you look back to last year, there was a lot of opportunities out there, we just weren’t able to capitalize as much as we are this year”, he said.
“No one cares who’s getting the credit, we just want to be ballhawks, no matter if it’s a tipped pass or just striking at the football”, he added. “We just want to be able to affect the game in any way possible”. And they certainly have been doing that.