NFL teams going for two more than ever before

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NFL coaches are getting more gutsy about going for two.

Two-point conversions are up this year, with 58 attempts through 92 games putting the league on pace to have a total of 161 two-point conversion attempts this season. Last season there were 113 two-point conversion attempts across the league. Last year teams went for two on 8 percent of all touchdowns, while this year teams are going for two on 11 percent of all touchdowns.

According to the Associated Press, there have been more two-point conversion attempts this season than in the first six weeks of any season since the two-point conversion rule went into effect in 1994.

Teams have converted exactly 50 percent of two-point conversions this year after converting 48 percent of two-point conversions last year.

NFL kickers make 94 percent of extra points, so the two-point conversion is a slightly more successful play, on average, than kicking the extra point: An extra point kick will net, on average, 0.94 points, while a two-point conversion will net, on average, 1.0 points.

But coaches generally aren’t thinking about the average points scored per conversion attempt, they’re thinking about the specific circumstances their team is in. And this year, many of the highest-profile two-point conversion decisions have failed. Texans coach Romeo Crennel went for two when up by seven on Sunday against the Titans, hoping to take a nine-point lead and put the game away. The Texans didn’t convert, the Titans scored a touchdown and extra point on the subsequent possession, and Tennessee won in overtime. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy surprised many observers by going for two when trailing by nine against the Falcons; that conversion failed as well, although the Cowboys were still able to come from behind and win.

There’s no reason a team couldn’t start going for two as the default decision after every touchdown, but no team has ever done that. Instead, they make kicking the extra point the default, and go for two a decision based on the circumstances of the game. Coaches are making the decision to go for two more often, which is good news for the fans, as the two-point conversion remains one of the most exciting plays in football.

6 responses to “NFL teams going for two more than ever before

  1. The Vikings went for two relatively early in the game in two separate games. They failed both times and lost by one point each time. That’s why you shouldn’t just go for two every time. You may wind up scoring more points over the course of the season but in the small sample size of a single game, you can’t count on getting the points back later if you miss out earlier.

  2. As one coach said, the only problem is that you only have a limited number of great short distance plays in the playbook and teams will show them too early. Before the playoffs

  3. Even with moving the PAT back to thr 15 it’s still basically automatic for most kickers.

    Move it back to the 20 or 25 IMO, make kicking or going for 2 an actual decision if the pat is not as automatic.

  4. Moving the PAT back seems to have had a disastrous effect on the psyche of kickers across the league. Has there ever been a time in the NFL when kicking was so unsettled for so many teams?

    I don’t know that I see the 2 point conversion as a savior. Sure, it’s nice if a team makes it, but if they don’t then they’re almost forced to try again if they score another TD. There are situations where it’s a no-brainer, sure, but it can also send a team down a path of chasing it just to play catch up.

    And going for 2 to win at the end of the game is foolish to me. You are winning or losing based on one play. If a game goes to OT you have (usually) a number of plays to win or lose.

  5. I do not that the 50% conversation rate is directly comparable to the 94% PAT rate. If teams always went for two, I think defenses would probably be better at diagnosing what the offenses were going to do and would probably cut into that success percentage. Also, I suspect that their is a much wider range of success for the two-pointer vs. PAT.

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