On the most recent episode of the Steelers Stat Geek podcast, I tackled the question of breaking down what happened on the resulting drive after every turnover the Steelers gave up 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 yesterday how the Steelers offense did on the resulting drive after the defense created a takeaway, today is focused on the response to turnovers.
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 result of the 19 turnovers by the Steelers last season:
Points off of takeaways: 36 points
Returned for TD : 1
End of Game: 3
End of Half: 2
Field Goal attempts: 4 (3 made)
The touchdown which was returned against the Steelers occurred in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns when the Steelers were trailing by six points on the last play the game and were attempting multiple laterals in order to make something happen. Instead, the ball was lost and Cleveland had a short return for a touchdown after time expired and there was not even a point after attempt. So even though they surrendered six points, this turnover would have otherwise fit in a category of the end of the game.
As for the two drives which did end the game, one occurred with 0:18 remaining in Week 7 against the Miami Dolphins where the Steelers were at the Dolphins 25-yard line but threw an interception in the end zone. The other drive following a turnover which ended the game was with 4:18 remaining in the Steelers blow-out loss to the Philadelphia Eagles where they ran out the clock.
As for the two turnovers where the ensuing drive ended the half, one was the Steelers attempting to throw deep with less than 30 seconds remaining and they were being blown out by the Buffalo Bills. The other turnover took potential points off the board as the Steelers were at the Baltimore Ravens 23-yard line with 0:23 during Week 14 which was one of three turnovers in Ravens territory in a game of Steelers ultimate lost by two points.
Two of the turnovers for the Steelers were the result of special teams. In Week 2, Gunner Olszewski fumbled a punt which gave the ball back the Patriots on their 20-yard line and a penalty on the play set them up at the Steelers 10 which led to a touchdown. The other special teams turnover was a fumbled kickoff by James Pierre against the Buffalo Bills which ultimately resulted in a blocked field goal.
From the Steelers 19 turnovers, 16 of them resulted in the team having a drive which consisted of more than just a kneel down. In the 16 drives, the Steelers surrendered 25 yards or more in five of the drives. On the other hand, the Steelers defense answered with five drives which their opponents did not even gain 10 yards.
Although the Steelers defense forced three punts on drives following turnovers in 2022, the more impressive stat is where the Steelers defense took the ball back three times in 2022. To respond to a turnover with a takeaway of their own is one of the best ways the defense can neutralize the situation and shift momentum.
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 defense can respond in a positive way after the offense turns the ball over, it reduces the sting of the splash play given up. Additionally, when the defense takes the ball away and the offense can turn it into points of seal a victory it is the same type of complementary football.
To hear the complete game-by-game breakdown of the results of the Steelers turnovers from 2022, check out the entire Steelers Stat Geek podcast bellow: