Now that the Steelers 2019 season has concluded, the long off-season has begun. As we move through the remainder of the NFL post season and beyond, it’s time to look back at some of the numbers the Steelers put up (a failed to put up) this past season. There are some numbers that are great, while others are definitely short of the mark. Either way, let’s put some context behind a few of the statistics for 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers produced during the season.
Since it’s the very first statistic to look at, let’s start on a very high note.
One of the greatest surprises of the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers was the reemergence of a stifling defense. Coming off a season in which the Steelers were tied for the franchise low in takeaways in 2018 with 15, seeing the Steelers forcing turnovers on a consistent basis may have been the biggest highlight of the season.
The Steelers finished the 2019 season with 38 takeaways. They notched 20 interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries. Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick led the way in interceptions each with five. Linebackers T.J. Watt and Devin Bush were the only other members of the Steelers with multiple interceptions as they each had two. Bush and Watt also led the team in fumble recovery‘s with four apiece followed by Fitzpatrick and Bud Dupree with two apiece.
It was a vast improvement in 2019 as the Steelers only had eight interceptions and seven fumble recovery the previous season which landed them tied for 29th in the NFL in total takeaways. The increase of 23 forced turnovers catapulted the Steelers to the top of the league for the 2019 season, two ahead of the New England Patriots.
The Steelers 38 takeaways was the most they have achieved since 1996 when they finished the season with 40. With the Steelers constantly turning out seasons of turnovers in the 40’s in the 1970’s and 80’s, the new era of the NFL has reduced the number of takeaways over the last 20 seasons. Regardless, the Steelers still finished ahead of their franchise average of 34.5 takeaways per season.
What was a franchise record for the Steelers in terms of takeaways was their increase from the previous season. Having an additional 23 takeaways from the mark set the previous year, the Steelers had never seen a jump in forced tunrovers from one season to the next as they did in 2019. The next closest jump in franchise history came from 25 takeaways 1982 to 45 takeaways in 1983. But if you know your NFL history, NFL teams only played nine games in 1982 due to the strike-shortened season.
One of the biggest reasons the Steelers managed to win as many games as they did in 2019 was the play of their defense and their ability to take the ball away from their opponents. While I would have been happy with 23 turnovers on the season when prediting the Steelers statistics back in August, an increase of 23 takeaways far exceeded almost everyone’s expectations. With their success at forcing turnovers this past season, the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers need to build on the 2019 success and continue taking the ball away.