Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told the media before the start of the team’s minicamp yesterday that he wanted to try a two-point conversion after every touchdown in 2016.
Should the Steelers be more aggressive after scores this season?
To answer that question we will look at the expected point value for teams that attempt an extra point compared to those that went for two.
Last year, kickers in the NFL made 94.2 percent of their extra point attempts (1,145 of 1,217 kicks). Thus the expected value for NFL teams last year was .942 points when they lined up to kick the extra point.
After the NFL changed the rules for the extra point last year (moving the attempt back to the 15 yard line) teams tried more two-point conversions. Teams were successful on 45 of their 94 attempts or 47.8 percent of the time. On average, the expected point value of going for two after a touchdown was .956 (2*.478).
The 2015 numbers (.956 is bigger than .942) support teams going for two more often. They are even better for the Steelers.
Last year Pittsburgh led the league in two-point attempts with 11 and was the most successful team at converting them (made 8). The Steelers had an expected point value of 1.45 points per two-point attempt compared to the .941 points the team scored on their extra points.
The math says Big Ben is right; the Steelers should go for 2 after every touchdown.
However, research has shown that kickers are getting better and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the conversion rate on extra points increase. Plus, making a decision based on a small sample (11 two-point attempts) is foolhardy.
NFL teams, especially ones as gifted on offense as the Steelers, should consider going for two more often but given the conservative nature of coaches don’t expect that to happen.