Armchair Quarterback: 2-point chase still a losing proposition

Steve Brownlee

There you go Steelers, chasing the score with all your 2-point conversion attempts.

Pittsburgh tried — and missed — a 2-pointer on all four touchdowns it scored in its big home showdown with the Dallas Cowboys in the featured 4 p.m. game Sunday.

In the end, it doesn’t look like it cost Pittsburgh the game as the Cowboys won 35-30. Dallas also missed a pair of 2-pointers.

There’s one reason I can’t blame the Steelers too much for the 2-point attempts — they’ve been doing this just about every time they score first in a game.

And before this, it had worked from what I’m remembering.

But this time it didn’t. I looked up the box score from the game and calculated the score after each TD and field goal if they had made an extra-point kick on the TDs.

While Dallas would’ve won 37-34, there’s one big difference in that final 42 seconds when the Cowboys drove for the winning TD.

What really happened was that the Steelers led 30-29, meaning a field goal was just about as good as a TD.

The TD was a run up the middle by Ezekiel Elliott, and from what all the pundits have said was just meant to be a safe play to gain a few yards and set up Dallas field goal kicker Dan Bailey away from the hashmarks.

It looked like Pittsburgh loaded up the box to force a play for no gain or maybe a loss so the field goal would be tough. Instead, Elliott broke through the first line of defenders and was off to the races.

If the PAT kicks had been made, the Steelers would’ve been leading 34-30 going into those final 42 seconds, making a TD a necessity.

Moving into field goal range would’ve meant nothing, and you never know how each team would’ve performed with that knowledge.

Would Cowboys’ rookie quarterback Dak Prescott been able to push his team all the way to the end zone in that short amount of time? And would Elliott have been rendered useless knowing that a running play wasn’t going to move the yard markers quickly enough?

It’s all speculation — but it should be worth a look by the Steelers.

Now onto this week’s picks:

Today, 8:30 p.m.

New Orleans at Carolina — Each team suffered a heartbreaking loss on Sunday to AFC West teams at home. Give me the home team on a short week. Panthers, 27-23.

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Buffalo at Cincinnati — Getting out of the harsh national spotlight should help the not-ready-for-prime-time team from Cincy. Bengals, 20-13.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland — It’s Cleveland, and it’s a division game. ‘Nuff said. Steelers, 24-13.

Baltimore at Dallas — Now that the Cowboys have the best record in the NFL, I can say, “It’s Dallas. ‘Nuff said.” Cowboys, 34-23.

Jacksonville at Detroit — I would hope Detroit’s not content to let this game come down to the final 90 seconds. But they probably will. Lions, 30-27.

Tennessee at Indianapolis — I hate to tell you what these teams have in common, but I have to — each one’s most recent games are wins over the Packers. Oooh, that hurts. Titans, 31-29.

Tampa Bay at Kansas City — I don’t want to think too much, so when the clearly superior team is at home, just take ’em. Chiefs, 27-17.

Arizona at Minnesota — I guess I deserve this game right after my comment on the last game. These have to be the worst teams, not because they’re bad, but because they’re so inconsistent. But the Vikings are in such freefall, I can’t pick them. Cardinals, 19-17.

Chicago at N.Y. Giants — Pundits are wondering if the Bears will implode. That’s not a good sign, is it? Giants, 27-13.

Sunday, 4-4:30 p.m.

Miami at Los Angeles — Aah, a game I can sink my teeth into. The Rams are going to finally play and start Jared Goff. He might turn out to be great, but even the Cowboys’ Prescott lost his first game. Dolphins, 23-19.

New England at San Francisco — The Patriots should be mad. And no, Rob Gronkowski didn’t have a punctured lung. Patriots, 42-20.

Philadelphia at Seattle — Sic the Seattle defense on Philly’s offensive line and rookie QB Carson Wentz. Seahawks, 27-17.

Sunday, 8:30 p.m.

Green Bay at Washington — Unfortunately, this is another case of the better team being at home. Redskins, 32-19.

Monday, 8:30 p.m.

Houston vs. Oakland (at Mexico City) — I don’t know if a team called the Texans can get the Mexican crowd on its side, not when they can dress like the crazy Oakland fans. Raiders, 34-24.

Last week — 10-4, 71 percent. Season — 86-59-2, 59 percent.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.