As the Game Turns: Week 15 vs New England: Getting Turnovers at the Right Time

Christopher Horner - Tribune-Review

By: G.Stryker

Each and every game has a pivotal moment where victory is decided.  Not always the game winning play, but a play that determines the outcome, and if it went differently, a different result could be likely. So each week we will explore the exact moment of drama where the game pivots on: As the Game Turns.

The Steelers defense has had some success this season, but they haven’t been known as a team that can turn the ball over.  In this new high-octane NFL, turnovers are the way to nullify a high scoring offense by giving the ball back to your own. This year, only 4 teams have less turnovers than the Steelers.  Though it is important to get turnovers, it is most important to get them at crucial times, late in games.

Following an interception of their own, the Patriots started a drive near midfield and took it all the way down to the 5 yard line with first and goal, only trailing by 4 points.  A holding penalty on a 3 yard run pushed New England back to the 15 yard line. The very next play, Tom Brady is pressured by Cameron Heyward and TJ Watt.  Brady can’t step up and is forced to backpedal.  He heaves the ball away downfield, but doesn’t have the strength to get it out of bounds.  Joe Haden makes an excellent read on the ball and high points it between Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.  Instead of playing with a chance to take the lead with 8 minutes left in the game, the defense makes the most impactful late game turnover to keep points off of the board.  In addition, Edelman was injured trying to defend Haden on the interception, and is lost for the rest of the game.

The Steelers then take that possession for 61 yards and eat 5 minutes of game time to kick a 48 yard field goal and extend their lead to 7 points with 2:30 left in the game.  The defense stands up again to keep the Patriots out of the end zone again, but the interception on the prior drive, is where the game turned.

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