By Craig Ellenport | Oct. 29, 2018
With all the talk about questionable 2-point conversion attempts this season, it was fascinating to watch NFL Red Zone Sunday afternoon and see the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts going for two in their respective games at almost the exact same time in almost the exact same circumstance.
First up was the Rams. Trailing 10-2 late in the first half against the Packers, they scored to make it 10-8. They went for two and failed.
Moments later, we saw the Colts score a touchdown midway through the third quarter to pull to within 21-19 on the road vs. the Raiders. They went for two and made it, tying the game.
Remember what Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said after his unorthodox 2-point attempt failed in a Week 7 loss to Atlanta? Shurmur quoted statistics that show teams make 50 percent of their 2-point attempts – so even though the first attempt failed, he figured they would make a second try if they scored again.
The Giants did score with 5 seconds left, and made their second 2-point attempt. But the game had already been out of reach, so it was a meaningless conversion.
In Week 8, there were nine 2-point conversion attempts. Here’s a look at the circumstances and results:
Rams: After missing the conversion at the end of the first half, they tried again midway through the third quarter. Trailing 13-8, the touchdown gave them a 14-13 lead. Going for two and making it gave them a 3-point lead. On the one hand, had they kicked the PAT the first time to make it 10-9, they wouldn’t have needed to risk chasing those points here. On the other hand, if any team is going to assume they can make 50 percent of their 2-point attempts, it would be the high-powered Rams.
Colts: Like the Rams, the Colts could afford to take chances here because their offense has the ability to score in bunches. This offense has become one of the best in the league, and they did go on to outscore Oakland 21-7 after this conversion.
Browns: Trailing 33-12 in Pittsburgh, they scored with 13 seconds left in the game to make it 33-18. The 2-point attempt failed, though it was a completely meaningless play.
Panthers: Leading 27-14 at home vs. the Ravens, Carolina scored to make it 33-14 with about 10 minutes left in the game. They went for two in order to make it a 21-point lead. The attempt failed. It was unlikely the Ravens would score two touchdowns and two field goals in 10 minutes, so this was a worthy risk.
Buccaneers: Trailing 34-26 at Cincinnati, they scored with 1:10 left in the game. This, of course, was the most obvious circumstance for attempting a 2-point conversion, and the Bucs made it to tie the game – only to lose on a last-second field goal by the Bengals.
Broncos: Trailing 30-14 in Kansas City, Denver scores at the end of the third quarter to make it 30-20. The attempt failed. Denver later kicked a field goal to make it 30-23, which turned out to be the final. Had the Broncos kicked the PAT to make it 30-21, the field goal would have made it 30-24 and at least given Denver a chance to win it with a touchdown.
Cardinals: trailing 15-10 at home vs. the 49ers, Arizona scores the go-ahead touchdown with 39 seconds left in the game. Leading 16-15 with so little time remaining, it is a no-brainer to go for two so a field goal can’t beat you. The attempt is successful.
Jaguars: Trailing 17-6 vs. Philadelphia, they score to make it 17-12 with 4:38 left in the third quarter. They go for two in an attempt to close to within a field goal. The attempt fails. Not a terribly risky call, but not necessary given the time left.
Overall, we had nine 2-point attempts in Week 8, with four successful. If you throw out the Browns’ meaningless attempt at the end of their loss, we hit the magical 50 percent conversion rate. Still, game circumstances and team ability should always be factored into the decision.