Go for two: The decision to try for a two-point conversion is something that isn't textbook, rather it's based on a combination of things from analytics, to feel, to game situations.
The Steelers went for two twice against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night in their effort to come from behind in the game. The first attempt, a pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Diontae Johnson failed, while the second attempt, Roethlisberger to Johnson again, succeeded.
The second one pulled the Steelers to within eight, which would have called for another two-point conversion to tie the game if the Steelers had gotten back in the end zone.
Coach Mike Tomlin said he went for it the first time knowing they needed it and not wanting to put his team in an overtime game with injuries mounting and the team playing with no rest.
"It's part analytics, it's part feel, particularly in that instance," said Tomlin. "I wanted to be aggressive and go for the win and so in an effort to do that, I think we needed to get two two-point conversions. The first two scores that we got we kicked the extra point. The third score we went for two in an effort to set up the potential to play for the win on the last one if necessary. Just the mindset ahead in those circumstances. I thought were too thin in the line of scrimmage to go into extra time and so I did it with that understanding. But again, I never make those decisions based purely on one set of variables or one equation, whether it's analytics or specifically a feel. It's a multitude of variables and game circumstances and that's always the case."
Getting a break: A weekend without Steelers' football isn't something most fans enjoy, but after playing on Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings, getting a few days off this weekend was just what the doctor ordered for the team.
The time off gave the players an opportunity to recover from playing on a short week and get ready for a final push for the postseason in the last four games, starting this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field.
"I think sitting out the weekend provided us the perspective of how wide open this field is and our potential place in it," said Tomlin. "That being said, you can't spend a lot of time looking at big picture perspective. I think you look long enough to gain that perspective and gain that understanding. And then you better get singularly focused on the stadium that you're prepared to go into this week, which we are, because obviously Tennessee is a quality team. It's going to be a big game for us. I'm glad it is happening here in Pittsburgh, Pa.
"We've got some work ahead of us. We're excited to get back to that. The rest was appreciated. The extended time this past weekend was appreciated and necessary in some instances, particularly from a health standpoint. But it's time to get down to the physical work and business of formulating a plan and understanding that plan and our roles within it in an effort to secure victory."
While Tomlin said the weekend provided some perspective on how wide open the AFC is, he didn't have any interest in discussing how whether or not it's good that the AFC is so balanced, with no team clinching a playoff berth yet through Week 14.
"I do not care. I do not care," said Tomlin. "My agenda is the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't waste any of my time this weekend pondering that perspective. I was just looking at our place in this fray and the things that we're capable of getting accomplished based on current positioning."
Position flexibility: The Steelers offensive line has had a lot of movement, but that movement hasn't translated into a lot of playing time for tackle Zach Banner.
Banner, who is coming off an ACL injury that ended his 2020 season after Week 1, hasn't started this season and has only seen action in five games.
A big reason for it is the struggles and injuries on the line have come more from the left guard spot rather than tackle, where rookie Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor are holding things down. And Banner is one of the linemen that doesn't have position flexibility, keeping him on the sideline more often than not.
"He's proven his health and so more than anything it's cohesion and opportunity," said Tomlin. "We've sustained a lot in the interior portions of our line, and less so at tackle, and he's a tackle and tackle only. I think we've been through maybe four or five left guards specifically. That's not a position that he plays."