The Cowboys worked overtime on defending 2-point conversions during practice last week. They were aware of the Steelers’ history of eschewing the almost automatic PAT for a try for two.
“That’s been their style this year,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “They haven’t done it every time, but they’ve done it a lot, certainly much more than any other team in the league. You work a little bit extra on those situations. As much as anything else, you’re natural reaction after a team scores a touchdown is to send your field goal unit and PAT block team out there. So you have to have the mindset of, ‘Stay out there. We’re going to deal with this play right now.’ I thought our guys did a good job with that. Obviously we defended them well throughout the game.”
The Steelers are responsible for five of the seven first-quarter 2-point attempts since the start of last season when the NFL pushed back the PAT. Last season, Pittsburgh set an NFL record for 2-point conversions made by converting eight tries in 11 attempts.
Before Sunday, they were 14-for-17 over the past three seasons on 2-point tries, including 2-for-2 this season.
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But they missed all four Sunday in a 35-30 loss to the Cowboys.
“We want to be aggressive,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “That’s not out of line with our personality. Not only recently, but in recent years.”
The Steelers tried passes on all four of their failed attempts Sunday. All four of Ben Roethlisberger’s attempts were incomplete, with Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr intercepting the last.
“I was surprised about that, but Big Ben is aggressive,” safety Byron Jones said. “He wants to score as many points as he can as fast as he can. So once he went for two the first time, he’s probably going to do it the entire game, so we were ready.”
The Cowboys went for 2 points when they scored with nine seconds left to make it a 35-30 game. Dak Prescott’s pass failed. It was their first 2-point attempt of the season.