Through the first six weeks of the 2020 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers rank seventh in takeaways, and only two of the six teams who have recorded more have played only five games as they have. The Steelers have nine takeaways on the year. Three teams have 10. Nobody has more than 12, that being the Cleveland Browns, whom Pittsburgh did not allow to record a takeaway on Sunday.
Eight of their takeaways have been interceptions. That ranks tied for the second-most in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have played six games, behind only the Indianapolis Colts with 10 picks (accounting for all of their takeaways so far), who have also already played six games.
The Steelers added two more names to the list of players who have intercepted passes this season when they picked off Baker Mayfield twice on Sunday. The emphatic one was Minkah Fitzpatrick with his first of the year, returning it for a touchdown. The other one was by Cameron Sutton, who nearly had one last week if Steven Nelson had not jumped in front of him for his second interception of that contest.
“Just dropping into zone coverage, getting the proper depth”, Sutton said in describing his pick to the media earlier this week, via a video of the interview supplied by the team’s media department. “Just reading the key. You got a great push from our front, kind of getting him out of the pocket. Just being aware of the down and distance, being aware of the situation, of the receivers and body presence around me. Just going up and catching the ball at the highest point, and just—catching the ball, going up and grabbing a pick”.
Of course, it’s one thing to get the ball, and another for the team to capitalize on it. Fortunately, the Steelers were able to do this. Fitzpatrick handled things on his own, of course, but the offense also turned Sutton’s interception into a touchdown after he gave them possession at midfield. It took just four plays for Ben Roethlisberger to hit James Washington for the 28-yard touchdown pass.
“With that, getting the ball back for our offense, seeing what those guys have been doing with the ball on offense, that’s really special as well”, Sutton said. “We’ve just go continue to keep putting ourselves in good situations to put them in good situations, and everyone eats”.
The Steelers have actually been exceptional when taking the ball away this year. They have scored six touchdowns and two field goals in drives following a takeaway, and the ninth possession resulted in their being able to run out the clock.
That’s seven best-case-scenario results off of turnovers, plus two consolation prizes, for a total of 41 points off of turnovers so far through five games. I’m not sure if the offense managed that much all year last season on their own, with 38 takeaways, but the defense did score three times by themselves in 2019.