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Steelers take aim at dubious mark

10/10/2013

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers are still without a takeaway a quarter into the season, but they have been close to forcing turnovers. Or have they?

Allow strong safety Troy Polamalu to weigh in on the subject.

"The only times I've touched the ball was getting a pinkie on it with one hand in the Tennessee game and a pinkie on it with one hand in the Cincinnati game," Polamalu said. "We just haven't been hitting the ball. You get a lot of times in the league a lot of guys get hit in the face with the ball and it really hasn't happened to us on defense at all this year."

The lack of takeaways has the Steelers on the verge of establishing a dubious mark. No team in NFL history has failed to record a takeaway five games into a season, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The Steelers are at four games, and the players are still at a loss to explain what has to happen for the defense to start forcing turnovers.

"Last year I had two interceptions and forced two fumbles and it just happened," free safety Ryan Clark said. "Sometimes those plays just come."

But defenses have to make those plays happen too, Clark acknowledged.

"I think the biggest thing we need to do more of is more people getting to the ball," the 12th-year veteran said. "When you get multiple hats on the ball that gives the second guys opportunities to pull at the ball, try to get it out. So as a team I think that's a thing we can work on more."

The Steelers need Polamalu to take the lead on that and forcing turnovers in general.

No player on their defense is more disruptive or opportunistic than Polamalu. The seven-time Pro Bowler has 37 career takeaways, and his 30 interceptions are ninth-most in Steelers history.

The Steelers need to put Polamalu in better positions to create takeaways. The 11-year veteran said he also needs to play better even though he has consistently been around the ball this season.

Asked to assess his play, Polamalu said, "0-4 like everyone else. I just haven't made the plays. That's the truth. I don't need to give an excuse for that."