The Pittsburgh Steelers continued a 60-game streak of taking down the quarterback at least once per game, a string of games that spans back into the first half of the 2016 season. On top of that, they recorded a takeaway for the ninth straight game, and for the 17th time in the last 18.
While that is impressive, the streak that they snapped today was one they’re no doubt thrilled to have finally alleviated themselves of. Coming into the contest against the Houston Texans, the Steelers turned the ball over at least once in 25 consecutive games, dating back to a week 11 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018. Every game since then has seen them turn the ball over, and usually at least twice, doing so 13 times in that span.
They finally posted a clean sheet in that column in their narrow victory over the Texans today, and we saw how crucial that was. Houston’s lone interception was turned into the Steelers’ go-ahead and game-winning touchdown seven minutes later, the latest fourth-quarter comeback and game-winning drive in Ben Roethlisberger’s storied career.
And the irony is that, in three of the four games leading up to this 25-game streak, they didn’t turn the ball over at all. Outside of a ridiculous six-giveaway day in the opener, they were one of the cleanest teams in the league in protecting the ball in 2018. They posted five clean sheets in 2017 as well.
Of course, one has to remember that they played the vast majority of the 2019 season without Roethlisberger, and the team managed to throw 18 interceptions without him, including one from Jaylen Samuels, of all people. I’m sure he would have managed not to turn the ball over in at least one game if he played all of last season.
So far this year, Roethlisberger has only been intercepted once on 109 pass attempts (with seven touchdown passes). He hasn’t fumbled a single time, though he did fumble once. Diontae Johnson and Benny Snell have both fumbled twice, in the case of the latter once on a handoff for an end-around and then on the first punt return attempt of the season.
There was a brief scare at the end of the game today. On third and nine, Roethlisberger fired a short pass to Chase Claypool to the left, who escaped the first level of the defense for the first down, but he had the ball punched out as he dove for the end zone.
Technically, he did fumble, but the ball bounced off of his leg and out of bounds at the two-yard line, so they retained possession. But fumbles are going to happen. It’s about finding and falling on them when they spring loose, or getting them out of bounds. The Steelers have six fumbles on the season now on offense and special teams, but have only lost two of them—Johnson’s punt return fumble, and Snell’s fumble last week. Three giveaways in three games I can live with after turning the ball over 30 times in 2019.