Steelers cooking up plenty of turnovers
By Mark Kaboly
Published: Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, 10:42 p.m.
CLEVELAND — Remember when they couldn't force a single turnover? Remember when they were the last team — 18 quarters into the season — to force one?
Neither can the Steelers.
The Steelers' inability to force turnovers has disappeared. During Sunday's 27-11 win over Cleveland at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Steelers forced a season-high four turnovers that led to 17 points.
Takeaways have become contagious. The Steelers have seven turnovers over their past eight quarters, which has led to more than half of their points during that span.
“We say they come in bunches,” Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor said. “We don't know how they come or how they get started, but we know once they do get started, they come. Over the past three weeks, that is what we have been doing.”
Against the Browns, four takeaways in a little more than 20 minutes turned a close game into a convincing victory that pushed the Steelers (5-6) into a five-way tie for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot with five games remaining.
“It's definitely been contagious,” said Steelers safety Will Allen, who returned a fumble 49 yards and set up an Emmanuel Sanders touchdown.
“The last couple of games, we have been getting takeaways. I don't want to call them turnovers because we have been taking them away. We are being more mindful and are executing better. It is opening lanes for our pass rush, and our secondary is playing a little better and the linebackers are playing a little better.”
The turnovers are coming in bunches for the Steelers: They have forced 12 in their past five games. The last time they accomplished that was the beginning of the 2010 season, when they forced 16 in a five-game span from Weeks 2-6.
The Steelers insist they are not doing anything different.
“When turnovers come, they come,” safety Ryan Clark said. “It isn't something you can work on in practice. It is not something you can dream up. You just have to make those plays.”
The Steelers did that against the Browns, especially Troy Polamalu.
The Steelers' strong safety forced two fumbles — the first time he's done that in a game in his 11-year career. The first came when he held up running back Chris Ogbonnaya and ripped the ball loose. The second came when he sacked a scrambling Brandon Weeden and knocked the ball free.
“I am not going to say that the play was born out of some increased emphasis or something we emphasized, but it is something that we've been emphasizing,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.
Polamalu has three forced fumbles in the past two games.
“We've tried to be a little more ball-aware,” Polamalu said.
Cornerback William Gay forced a pair of turnovers, too. His sack of Jason Campbell jarred the ball loose, and it was picked up and returned 49 yards by Allen. Gay also stepped in front of a Weeden pass intended for Jordan Cameron in the third quarter and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown.
“We got turnovers and scored on defense,” Allen said. “Whenever you do that, it usually equals to a win.”
In games the Steelers didn't force a turnover, they are 1-4. In games they have forced at least two, they're 3-1.
“Yeah, we got a lot of turnovers, but we still gave up a lot of big plays on the back end,” Polamalu said. “If we want to compete with the elite teams in this league, we can't do that.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sbarro again files for bankruptcy reorganization
- Analysis: Steelers could fill needs with free agents while not spending big bucks
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley; Taylor restructures contract
- Crosby lifts Penguins over Capitals in last game of road trip
- Missing hikers found in McConnells Mill State Park
- Stage volunteer dies following collapse at Pine-Richland High School
- Hempfield couple charged in thefts
- Ligonier man charged with harassing estranged wife
- ‘Fresher, different, lot more fun’ guide changes at Kings Family Restaurants
- Man charged with pointing gun at woman in Rostraver
- Penguins notebook: Heralded Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov debuts with Capitals