The Pittsburgh Steelers took the football away from the Cincinnati Bengals five times in their season opener, with four interceptions coming from Minkah Fitzpatrick, Cameron Sutton, T.J. Watt, and Ahkello Witherspoon. Alex Highsmith forced a fumble that was recovered by Cameron Heyward.
All of that netted the Steelers 17 points, including seven off of a pick-six. But of the four turnovers after which the Steelers’ offense took the field, they managed only 10, with a touchdown on a drive that began on their 41-yard line following one interception, and then a field goal preceding that off of a fumble that spotted them the Bengals’ 34-yard line.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky was not satisfied with those results, the other two turnovers resulting in his unit punting. “I want to score points. I want this offense to score points and be aggressive”, he told reporters yesterday, via the team’s website.
“When our defense gets turnovers, we need to turn those into points”, he added, and by points, as he goes on, he means get into the end zone. “That’s my mindset, and that’s what we’re thinking about when we get the ball taken away. We’ve got to turn it into touchdowns and not just field goals”.
The Steelers ranked in the middle of the pack last season with 22 takeaways, which was in a three-way tie for the 14th-best mark in the league, with 13 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries. Needless to say, the opener against the Bengals has them currently situated first in the NFL, one more than the Los Angeles Rams in takeaways.
But they’re quite possibly going to need that even more this year than they have in the past now that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is gone. One key factor is going to be not just the takeaways, but the turnover margin.
Trubisky and his crew managed to go without turning the ball over at all on Sunday, but that’s not a trend that’s likely to continue. He was very much at risk of having the ball stripped out of his hand during one scramble, for example, which had his sideline panicked, according to defensive tackle Cameron Heyward.
Up next on the schedule is the New England Patriots, who turned the ball over three times in a loss to the Miami Dolphins, tossing one interception and losing two fumbles. Bill Belichick’s teams aren’t ordinarily so generous, but with this frenzied unit, perhaps the Steelers can continue to pop a few balls loose and have them roll their way, and help set up Trubisky and company to get into the end zone.