On the most recent episode of the Steelers Stat Geek podcast, I tackled the question of breaking down what happened on the resulting drive of every takeaway the Steelers defense forced in 2022. If there was no drive following the play because it was returned for a touchdown, or ended the game or the half, those results were recorded as well. While I also covered how the Steelers defense did on the resulting drive after the offense or special teams turned the ball over, that topic will be discussed in an article tomorrow.
In looking at the possible outcomes, I determined the resulting possession would fall into one of eight categories. They were returned for touchdowns, ending the game, ending the half, a touchdown drive, a field goal attempt, a punt, a turnover, or surrendering possession on downs. Here is the breakdown of the 23 turnovers forced by the Steelers last season:
Points off of takeaways: 53 points
Returned for TD : 1
End of Game: 4
End of Half: 0
Field Goal attempts: 8 (6 made)
The Steelers first take away of the 2022 NFL season was one many would consider to be the most dynamic as it was the only one returned for a touchdown when Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted Joe Burrow. Of the five takeaways the Steelers had in Week 1, two resulted in touchdowns, one resulted in a field goal, and two resulted in punts but started in their own territory where the takeaway potentially kept points off the board for their opponent.
When it came to the six drives which ended in a punt after a takeaway by the Steelers in 2022, five of those drives began inside the Steelers own 30-yard line. The one drive which did not came against the Indianapolis Colts when the Steelers took all over at the Colts 38-yard line after a James Pierre interception. But only 3rd & 12 from the Colts 26, Kenny Pickett took a 12-yards sack which took the Steelers out of field goal range.
One of the more impressive numbers with the Steelers was having four takeaways have the resulting drive end the game. With three of those takeaways, the Steelers forced the turnover with 0:35 or less remaining in the game. The take away to end the game against the Atlanta Falcons could have been returned for a touchdown by Minkah Fitzpatrick, but he unselfishly went out of bounds so the Steelers could take victory formation rather than give the ball back to the Falcons even with a 10-point lead. The other take away which resulted in the end of the game was against the New Orleans Saints when Levi Wallace intercepted the ball with 4:23 remaining in the game. In this case, the offense complemented the defense by converting three separate third-down plays and held onto the football to run out the rest of the clock.
One important number from the list which may not stand out is where the Steelers did not have a turnover on the drive following a takeaway. If a team is looking to play complementary football, this is a great way the offense can help out their defense by not giving the ball right back to their opponent in the same field position. In all, 17 of the 23 takeaways ended in what would be considered a positive result between touchdowns, field goal attempts, and ending the game.
On the 22 drives the Steelers offense took over after a takeaway, they averaged 22.4 yards per drive. If the two drives which only consisted of the Steelers taking a knee were removed, the average goes up to 24.7 yards per drive. Keeping on the same filter of removing drives where the Steelers took a knee, the office achieved at least one first down and 15 of the 20 drives with four being punts and one being a field goal.
While many times in the NFL teams are not completely balanced between their offense and defense, when the two sides can complement each other is when teams see more success. If the Steelers offense can respond in a positive way when the defense creates a takeaway, the success of the team typically increases. Additionally, when the offense turns the ball over and the defense can come up with a stop, a topic which will be discussed tomorrow, it is the same type of complementary football.
To hear the complete game-by-game breakdown of the results of the Steelers takeaways from 2022, check out the entire Steelers Stat Geek podcast bellow: