On December 6, 2015, Ben Roethlisberger found Will Johnson in the back of the end zone on a two-point conversion attempt against the Colts, which at the time gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a 14-10 lead before the game became a blowout.
The Steelers went on to score the next, and final, 31 points in that game, but it was the 13th and 14th points scored for Pittsburgh in that game that made history, because on that conversion the team set a new NFL record, successfully converting an NFL-best seven two-point attempts in a single season.
With the offense clicking for most of the way down the stretch, the two-point conversions had gone by the wayside for the past month, but Mike Tomlin broke it out in the season finale, with Roethlisberger connecting with Fitzgerald Toussaint in the fourth quarter to take a 25-12 lead, the logic of which I don’t entirely understand, but that is neither here nor there.
Overall, the Steelers were simply exceptional, successfully converting eight out of 11 two-point conversion attempts over the course of the season. That is a success rate of 72.7 percent, and a positive expected points differential of five, scoring 16 points on 11 point after tries.
Much of this philosophy has had to do with the rule change that pushed the line of scrimmage for extra point tries to the 15-yard line for the kick. By the end of the season, just five teams made it through 16 games without missing an extra point, and the league as a whole was accurate on just 94.2 percent of extra point attempts.
Yet the rest of the league really has yet to follow suit in Tomlin’s wake, as only six other teams even attempted as many as five two-point conversions in 2015. The most was by the Packers, who attempted six two-point conversions.
The Packers are also the only team to have successfully converted at least four attempts, or half of the number that the Steelers managed this season, although, to be fair, before Pittsburgh this season, only two teams in NFL history had even successfully converted six attempts in a season.
I have written on this topic previously on a few occasions this season, and it is worth writing about, because what the Steelers have done this year has the potential to change the way that coaches approach their point after touchdown scenarios.
Two-point conversion attempts have typically been reserved for late-game, reactive situations, often saved until the last possible moment, for example, if a team is trailing by eight or 16 points. But seven of the Steelers’ 11 two-point attempts this season have come in the first half, with many of them aimed toward padding a lead to beyond that of a field goal.
During his press conference yesterday, Tomlin warned when asked about his penchant for going for two points that those watching the game should not go to the bathroom after touchdowns on Saturday, so don’t be surprised if the Steelers continue to stay aggressive. They have attempted a two-point conversion in eight of the 12 games in which Roethlisberger has played this season.