When the Patriots hosted the Steelers in the season opener back on September 10, a pair of missed field goals by Josh Scobee (who Pittsburgh actually traded a draft pick to acquire during training camp) may have been the difference in the game.
The Patriots still won by seven points after a garbage time touchdown closed the gap, but you never know how the game would have played out had Scobee connected earlier on those two kicks. Conversely, Scobee’s misses may have actually helped the Steelers in the long-run this season when it comes to attempting extra points.
As you know, the NFL made an offseason rule change where extra points are now attempted from the 15-yard line instead of the 2-yard line. However, two-point conversions are still attempted from the 2-yard line as they have been in the past.
In Week 1, the rule change resulted in four missed PATs. Eight total extra points were botched in all of 2014, so clearly the PAT is no longer “automatic” — exactly the intention of the rule. Here’s where Mike Tomlin and the Steelers come in, though.
After a first-quarter touchdown against the 49ers last Sunday, Pittsburgh elected not to go to its kicker, but to keep the ball in the hands of Ben Roethlisberger — who connected with Antonio Brown. 8-0, Steelers.
In the second quarter they were at it again after a touchdown, and converted once again, this time to Heath Miller. 16-3, Steelers.
It was actually the Steelers third successful two-point conversion of the season in as many tries — Markus Wheaton had caught one against the Patriots while trying to dig out of the hole missed field goals had left them in.
Don’t ask me what Tomlin’s logic was, because on Pittsburgh’s third touchdown of the day, the coach elected to simply kick the PAT … which Scobee missed off the upright.
Using some second grade math and a very limited sample size, the Steelers are now 4-for-5 on PAT attempts (0.8 points per play) and 3-for-3 on two-point conversions (2 points per play). It goes without saying that there’s no chance any team can convert 100% of the time, but even if Scobee upped his game to the league average (about 94% on PATs), don’t you feel the Steelers (or most teams) could convert more than 47% of their two-point conversions? I sure do.
I don’t want to put an exact number on it, because I really have no clue how it would work out if a team went for two every time. Some teams would be better than others and be able to use it to their advantage, some probably wouldn’t.
At 8-for-15, the league is off to a 53.3% conversion rate so far in 2015 … meaning that going for two is worth it mathematically. If teams put a focus on practicing/preparing for this every single time, there’s no reason to think an above average offense couldn’t convert 60-70% of its attempts.
I know this isn’t going to happen, but the point is if you’re a team like the Steelers (a bad kicker and a great two-point conversion rate), why not try this route?
It looks like the Steelers may already be on this path, and I applaud them for it. At the worst, it’s much more exciting for us to watch, and if it catches on … then we really have something game changing.
And yes, there’s a DFS spin we can put on it. If/when teams start adopting this strategy, they do become more valuable in you’re lineup. If a team scores four touchdowns, that’s four more chances for additional points. For example: torn between Julio Jones and Antonio Brown this week? Go ahead and go with Brown, it seems like his team already has him in position to have the opportunity to add extra points after a touchdown.
Find me on Twitter @julianedlow