Steelers have turnover problem on defense

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
1:20
PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- Brett Keisel noticed something as he watched games Sunday afternoon.

“Turnovers,” the veteran defensive end said, “were coming all over the place.”

That, unfortunately for the Steelers, continued Sunday night at Heinz Field.

The Steelers committed five turnovers in their 40-23 loss to the Bears. Just as significant in the Steelers falling to 0-3: the defense did not come up with any takeaways.

Three games into the season the Steelers have not forced any turnovers and a disturbing trend has also turned into an indictment of a proud defense.

The Steelers are already minus-9 in turnover differential, and while one side of that equation is easily explained – the offense has been too careless with the football – the other side leaves the players most responsible for it at a loss for words.

“I wish I had an answer for that,” Keisel said of the lack of turnovers the Steelers have forced. “It would have been fixed a long time ago. It’s one of those things that’s extremely frustrating but has a huge impact on the game.”

This is hardly a new development for the Steelers.

They have had just 35 takeaways since 2011 -- the same number of turnovers they forced in 2010, the year they went to the Super Bowl.

“Other teams are making plays and we aren’t,” free safety Ryan Clark said. “Period. Pride has to play a factor.”

The Steelers are moving dangerously close to playing just for pride this season, and they still have a game left in September.

Consider that only three out of 115 teams that started a season 0-3 since 1990 have rallied to make the playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

That significant sample size says the Steelers have a less than 3 percent chance of playing beyond December this season.

And they have reached this point because of a turnover problem – on both sides of the ball.

“It’s just not coming our way and it’s been like that,” cornerback Ike Taylor said. “We’re in a deep funk but we’ve got to keep playing.”

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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