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.