Obviously, if a team continuously turns the football over, it won’t be a surprise when they don’t win many games. For whatever reason in 2012, the Pittsburgh Steelers just could not wrap up the football, which led to 20 total fumbles and 13 lost for the season.
Seven of those lost fumbles came from the running back position, with Isaac Redman leading the way with three and Jonathan Dwyer not far behind with two. Emmanuel Sanders led the receivers with two lost, and Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Chris Rainey, Rashard Mendenhall and Ben Roethlisberger all had one each.
The amount of fumbles the Steelers had was the most in the Mike Tomlin era, and hopefully, they are going to get that sorted out in training camp this year. Since Tomlin became the head coach, the most fumbles the team had committed prior to 2012 was 14 in 2009. The most lost fumbles before the 13 in 2012 was eight in 2011.
Dwyer’s fumble in the first half against the Oakland Raiders in Week 3 led to a Carson Palmer touchdown pass to tie the game at 14. Then, Brown’s fumble in the fourth quarter allowed the Raiders to go down the field, tie the game and ultimately win on a last-second field goal.
I’m pretty sure we all remember the abomination of a game that the Steelers played against the Cleveland Browns in week 12. Charlie Batch threw three interceptions and the team lost five fumbles in the loss. They fumbled seven times all together, with Rainey, Mendenhall, Redman and Dwyer all losing one. Emmanuel Sanders didn’t want the receivers to be left out, so he contributed a lost fumble of his own also.
In week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys, the Steelers were still in a good position to make the playoffs and were leading 24-17 in the fourth quarter. After the defense forced a Cowboys punt, Brown fumbled on the return which led to a Dallas touchdown that tied the game. The fumble didn’t make Roethlisberger throw the pick in overtime that ultimately lost the game. However, if Brown just hangs on to the ball, they’re most likely not even in that situation.
Even with the injury to Roethlisberger late in the season, if the Steelers just wrap up the football, they probably win all three of these games. That would have given the team a record of 11-5, and they would have easily been in the playoffs. That’s not even counting the rest of the games where they played down to their competition and lost to teams they had no business losing to.
Let’s hope Tomlin and the coaches make an effort to really drill into the heads of the players the importance of holding onto the ball. If that happens, maybe this problem will turn out to be just a bad memory from one season.