Inside the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2-point party

The Pittsburgh Steelers plan to be aggressive after every touchdown.

Ben Roethlisberger wants to go for two every time, and Mike Tomlin likes the confidence. The Steelers should be among the league's most aggressive in this area, just as they were in 2015 with league highs in two-point attempts (11) and conversions (eight).

There's a good reason for this: The offense, particularly the passing game, simply feels comfortable going for two from only 2 yards out. It's all about the shotgun, three or four receivers out wide, find the open man.

Using All-22 coaches film, below are a few examples of how the Steelers get this done with space-clearing play calls. It's not just the scoring, but the mentality. Every successful attempt was a pass. This is an equal opportunity offense on this play. Antonio Brown was the team's only two-time scorer. Fullbacks, running backs, tight ends -- all are eligible for a 2-point souvenir.

The Steelers haven't been particularly potent in the red zone the past two years, but once they get six, Big Ben wants the ball and finds his scoring matchup quickly to tack on two more.


Today's NFL offenses place a premium on matchups, and a running back on an outside linebacker considered a liability in coverage is one good quarterbacks will gladly exploit. Sure, Roethlisberger could wait for Brown to get open, which usually works. But in the fourth quarter of a 28-12 win against Cleveland, the offense trusted third-string running back Fitzgerald Toussaint to get open. That's pretty bold in a playoff-clinching game. But that's the offense -- everyone can get touches. Plus, the Steelers had no choice. Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams were hurt.

On the play below, Toussaint was in the backfield, ready to block for Roethlisberger when Browns linebacker Paul Kruger faked a rush then prepared for coverage. Brown and tight end Jesse James both flared to the middle of the field, while tight end Heath Miller and wide receiver Markus Wheaton went the other way.

Roethlisberger has the option here. He's reading Kruger, who commits to the coverage, making the decision of where to go with the ball fairly easy. James would eventually cut to the goal post with his hand up, but Roethlisberger trusted Toussaint to win. Toussaint pressed up on Kruger, faked to the left then cut inside to the right. The play was designed to give him space.

Brown already had cleared out, drawing the defense to the middle of the field. Toussaint had that costly fumble in the playoff game, but the Steelers like his ability for plays like this. Toussaint left Kruger diving for open grass. Four receivers, all squeezed to one half of the field.

WEEK 2 -- 49ers

This is when the Steelers showed they weren't messing around with the 2-point play. They eschewed the kick on each of their first two touchdowns. The Steelers were without Bell and Martavis Bryant but still poured 43 points on the 49ers, wasting little time using Williams as a receiver, as this play illustrates.

Here's another four-wide set, pushing Brown and Wheaton inside with Williams out wide, to Brown's left shoulder. The 49ers had seven defenders in the box and never really adjusted to the Steelers' set, leaving one-on-ones all over the field, easy money for Roethlisberger.

Wheaton and Brown essentially ran the same route, getting to the goal line area and making a move toward the sideline for a quick-strike opportunity over the shoulder.

Roethlisberger was eyeing those two matchups but probably noticed safety Antoine Bethea resting in zone coverage slightly to his right, on Wheaton's side. Brown would be all alone with no threat of help. Roethlisberger will take that matchup all day.

He waited for Brown to shake free, and boy did he. The corner was still gathering his balance as a wide-open Brown caught an easy conversion. The 49ers rushed linebacker NaVorro Bowman up the middle and Ahmad Brooks off the edge, but they were never getting to Roethlisberger in time because the ball was out so quickly, two seconds max. With four options, Roethlisberger knew he'd have at least one available when it was time to release the ball.

Not all plays work this smoothly, but these illustrate the Steelers' comfort level in this area, and why they will keep taking shots from the 2 for 2.