Big Ben wants to go for two after every Steelers TD, and here's why he's right
Pittsburgh went for two more than any other team last season
The Pittsburgh Steelers made history last season, becoming the first team to attempt a two-point conversion in the first quarter in 17 years. If it were up to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, they'd do it again the first time they score a touchdown in 2016. And then again the next time. And again the time after that. And every single time they score a touchdown this coming season.
"Why not?" Roethlisberger said, per ESPN.com. "Put it in our hands. I want the ball. Any player would relish that opportunity."
The Steelers led the NFL with 11 two-point conversion attempts last season. They also led the NFL with eight conversions. Some simple math tells us that they accumulated 16 points on their 11 two-point attempts, five more points than they could have possibly gotten had they kicked the extra point every time.
Based on the league-wide 94.1 percent conversion rate on extra points (per Pro-Football-Reference) in the first year where the ball was placed on the 15-yard line, we can say the Steelers actually picked up an extra 5.6 points, because they may not have made all 11 extra point attempts. (Obviously, you can't actually get 0.6 points, but it's the expected value we're talking about here.) When you consider the kicking troubles they had during the first part of the season, the actual number might have been even higher.
The Steelers were something of an anomaly in their high two-point conversion rate, though. According to Pro-Football-Reference's logs, NFL teams converted 45 of 93 two-point attempts during the 2015 regular season. That's a conversion rate of 48.4 percent. Still, that rate yields more expected points than kicking the extra point every time.
| Try Type ||PAT||2PT|
The average two-point conversion was worth about 0.027 points per try more than the average extra point during the first season of the longer kick. That doesn't sound like a lot. Even if you multiply it by the average of 41.2 touchdowns each team scored last season, it only amounts to 2.02 points over the course of the entire season.
But again, that's if you assume average conversion rates for both the kicker and the offense. If you have a particularly inaccurate kicker, or a particularly good offense, those figures could shift accordingly.
They could also shift based on the fact that you're willingly going for two (if this is the Steelers taking Roethlisberger's suggestion), rather than being forced into it by game situation, which is the usual reasoning behind most two-point attempts. (Only 13 attempts last year came in the first half and only 16 came in the third quarter. The remaining 64 two-pointers were attempted in the fourth.)
If the Steelers practice their two-point plays enough that they're confident in going for it every time, we could assume a higher conversion rate than 48.4 percent. Considering they went 8 for 11 last year and 4 for 4 the year before, and they have Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and an excellent offensive line, that seems reasonable.
Everything here points toward going for two on every try being a positive expected value proposition for the Steelers. Kudos to them if they actually go through with it.
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