Armed with playmakers who rank among the best in the NFL at their respective positions, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is as daring as any coach in the sport when it comes to 2-point conversions.
In the past, that philosophy has made him an innovator. On Sunday, it turned him into something of a goat.
In a 35-30 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Heinz Field, the Steelers were unsuccessful on all four of their 2-point conversion attempts. The missed opportunities weren’t necessarily the difference between a win and loss — had they made extra points in each instance, they still would have fallen a point short — but they fundamentally altered the game.
The stinging loss leaves a flurry of hypothetical questions about all the different ways the game could have unfolded had the Steelers opted for a different point-after strategy. Tomlin, though, was firm in his stance after the game.
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“We want to be aggressive,” he said. “That’s not out of line with our personality.”
Two of the Steelers’ attempts were understandable. In the game’s final eight minutes, they twice failed on 2-point attempts that would have extended a one-point lead to three, as opposed to kicking an extra point for a two-point lead that could be wiped out by an opposing field goal.
The team’s first two tries, both in the first quarter, were more questionable and perhaps unnecessarily risky.
The question of whether to go for 2 has become more prevalent since the NFL moved the extra point from 20 yards to 33 yards in 2015.
Last season, kickers made 94.2 percent of extra points, the lowest mark in nearly 40 years, while teams that opted to go for 2 were successful 47.8 percent of the time.
Steelers players support, and like, their coach’s decisions on the matter.
“Sure,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said when asked if they enjoy consistently going for two. “We had a couple of times today where guys just slipped. We didn’t make the plays when we needed to.”