John Harbaugh: If you’re going to need a two-point conversion, better to go for it early

NFL: DEC 12 Ravens at Browns
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Ravens coach John Harbaugh was questioned after Sunday’s loss to the Ravens about why he decided to go for two after scoring a touchdown to make the score 24-15 in the fourth quarter. As Harbaugh explained it, that wasn’t a decision he made in the moment, but one he knows he’ll always make in that situation.

Harbaugh said that when you’re down by nine points after a touchdown, you know you’re going to need a two-point conversion at some point: Either you get it now to try to cut the deficit to seven points, or you kick the extra point now to cut the deficit to eight points and then have to go for two after your next touchdown. If Harbaugh’s preferred two-point conversion play doesn’t work, he would rather know in advance that he’s going to need to score on two more possessions so he can manage the clock appropriately.

“It was pretty much a standard, really, non-decision,” Harbaugh said. “You do it at that point in time because you’re gonna have to get a two-point conversion. So you understand if you get it or don’t get it early, where you’re at going from there, how many possessions you’re going to need and what you’re gonna have to do. If you wait until the last two-point conversion and you don’t get it, the game is over. You’ve lost. So you try it early. We’re in a seven point game? We know where we stand. We don’t get it, we’re in a nine-point game and we know that we need two possessions.”

The Ravens didn’t get the two-point conversion, but by finding out earlier in the fourth quarter that they wouldn’t get it, they managed the clock so that they would have time to score twice more in the game. The Ravens were able to get two more possessions (scoring another touchdown and then recovering the onside kick), but they weren’t able to get into field-goal range and lost 24-22. Still, Harbaugh put his team in the best position to win, even as they came up short.

39 responses to “John Harbaugh: If you’re going to need a two-point conversion, better to go for it early

  1. going for two early was the right call. The Ravens did a great job trying to come back, but just fell short. Great effort by Cleveland at the end.

  2. He should he fired because he lacks the knowledge of basic math. The statistics say you have a better chance of winning by going for 2 on the 1st touchdown but logically it makes no sense. The only reason it didn’t blow up in his face is because they recovered an inside kick. Something that has become nearly impossible with the new rules.

  3. Absolutely the right call. Evidence is overwhelming about that, despite what all the internet armchair qbs and head coaches think.

  4. If you kick it you know you are in a 1 or 2 possession with game as well, coach.

    Should’ve kicked it.

  5. Lost in this is that you also tell the other team what they need to do. By kicking the extra point, you make it a one score game and put pressure on the other team. If they know it is a two possession game, they can also manage the clock differently. And it is disingenuous to say Harbaugh managed the clock well and got a second last possession. The Ravens got lucky and recovered an onside kick. That happens sometimes, but it is not a winning strategy. (By the way, Mile Tomlin made an identical decision to go for 2 down 9 against Minnesota and also missed it.)

  6. People who prefer kicking it when down 9 seem to be trapped in the moment. Good strategy requires one to think not only of the moment, but what will happen later.

  7. I hate to agree with that putz, but I’ve always thought that. Then if you miss you have time to adjust your strategy to make up for it. It’s common sense.

  8. I am beginning to believe the argument you should go for two ever time . Kickers are not making PAT automatically any more so if it makes sense to become PROFICENT and quick on the 2. Emotionally wise,the other team feels defeated because you just scored on them ,and I’m sure they don’t have 2 pt defensive schemes ready to roll in 30 seconds ,YOU DO! Also if you score 3 times and your kicker makes his 3 PATs ,you still are ahead of the game by one point if you make 2 out of you 3 ,2 pt play.

  9. Its amazing how many people think just putting off the inevitable 2-point conversion is good strategy. Harbaugh has been consistently ahead of the curve in game management over the years. I get that he may rub people the wrong way, but he is one of just a handful of coaches in the NFL with a basic understanding of game theory and probability.

    If you’re down 15, there is NO downside to going for 2 to make it 7 late in the game. You will need to go for 2 at some point, why delay it?

  10. Going for 2 unless u absolutely have to is asinine. They don’t give you 2 points because it’s easier to convert. Unless you have a situation where your kicker is hurt. I dont know how many times you see the 2 point fail then it costs you later in the game ala the Vikings v Lions game. You are just chasing points because then when you don’t get it then you have to go for 2 again. Vs Kicking it 2x and in the Lions Vikings game the game would have been tied

  11. No one is looking to Harbaugh and Tomlin for coaching advice, nor clock management. As far as the rest of the league is concerned Harbaugh and Tomlin both have unnecessary losses, in just the last 2 weeks for coaching blunders when trying to convert 2-point conversions. Their arrogance gets in the way of winning.

  12. I understand his logic but I hate the idea of giving up easy points. I have seen plenty of games where a team would have won if they had taken the easy points (kick after touchdown or field goal on fourth down) but they failed early and it snowballed when they tried to make up for the earlier fail. Don’t make the risky play until you have too.

  13. I’m baffled that this is even an issue.

    If you’re going to have to go for 2 eventually, there is a chance that when you do go for it, you will not convert.

    At that point, would you rather still have time on the clock to overcome that failure, or have 0:00 showing, and the game is over?

    Harbaugh’s position should be a no-brainer.

  14. I would say I completely disagree with that. Play your game. And go for two only when completely necessary. Those who go for 2 early, and miss, spend the rest of the day chasing points, and making bad decisions because they are chasing points, compounding the problem.

  15. minime says:
    December 13, 2021 at 10:54 am

    With kickers so subpar lately.
    Go for 2 each and every time.

    ===========================================

    Clearly you haven’t heard of the man-child opera singer that goes by the alias “Justin Tucker”…

  16. The big question here is, why was this game even close? After Jackson got injured, the Browns should have won by at least 20 points.

  17. lifelongwhodat says:
    December 13, 2021 at 11:14 am
    Its amazing how many people think just putting off the inevitable 2-point conversion is good strategy. Harbaugh has been consistently ahead of the curve in game management over the years

    ———

    That last sentence gave me a huge laugh!! Thanks !!

  18. If you believe in “momentum” then it was the wrong call. You are better off waiting until the end when the other team is physically exhausted and emotionally defeated.

  19. Harbaugh is one of the most overrated coaches in history. He’s up there with Kyle Shanahan and Jeff Fisher. Yes, he won a Super Bowl in 2012, which is no small feat. However, in his last 8 seasons, he’s missed the playoffs entirely for 50% of those years and has only 2 playoff wins in 8 years. And yet Ravens fans keep telling us how amazing he and Lamar are. There must be something in the water in Charm City that makes its fans hallucinate because the facts are so much worse than the narrative that keeps getting thrown in our faces.

  20. This franchise is starting to get the Karma payback it has earned for the last decade. May you continue to showcase that you are the whining nellie we all know you to be.

  21. Every single reply on here that says “make it a one possession game” is missing the point entirely. An 8 point game isn’t necessarily a one possession game! The only way you will know whether it IS a one possession game is to try it, which they did. They failed. There is absolutely no reason to believe the 2 point outcome would’ve been different if they tried it with :10 left than with 9:00 left – ask the Ravens last week in Pittsburgh.

  22. Five analyst on CBS raged on this decision and I kept thinking, I playing the coach, made the same one he did, you need to go for two either now or later so do it now and hope to get it over with.
    The analyst never discussed this option.

  23. Wrong coach. You score the second TD and the two-point puts extra pressure on the D to ensure they stop it. Failure yet again.

  24. With the ravens 5 loses so far this season.How many would you give harbaugh? Coaching decisions?
    ===================================================================================

    I’m a Ravens Season Ticket Holder, and i’ll answer your question: Zero

    Heres’ something for you to contemplate; With the Ravens five losses this year, how many would I give to not having Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, Ronnie Stanley, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, L.J. Forte, Derrick Wolfe, and yesterday Jimmy Smith, Calais Campbell, and Lamar Jackson: FIVE.

    That’s 11 guys projected to start the season who didn’t play yesterday. If the Ravens fired Harbaugh, which – thankfully – they won’t, he’d be unemployed for about an hour.

  25. With the ravens 5 loses so far this season.How many would you give harbaugh? Coaching decisions? =================================================================================== I’m a Ravens Season Ticket Holder, and i’ll answer your question: Zero Heres’ something for you to contemplate; With the Ravens five losses this year, how many would I give to not having Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, Ronnie Stanley, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, L.J. Forte, Derrick Wolfe, DeShon Elliott, and yesterday Jimmy Smith, Calais Campbell, Patrick Merkari, Nick Boyle, Patrick Richard and Lamar Jackson: FIVE. That’s 11 guys projected to start the season, and five significant role players who didn’t play yesterday. If the Ravens fired Harbaugh, which – thankfully – they won’t, he’d be unemployed for about an hour.

  26. raveon says:
    December 13, 2021 at 12:20 pm
    With the ravens 5 loses so far this season.How many would you give harbaugh? Coaching decisions? =================================================================================== I’m a Ravens Season Ticket Holder, and i’ll answer your question: Zero Heres’ something for you to contemplate; With the Ravens five losses this year, how many would I give to not having Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, Ronnie Stanley, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, L.J. Forte, Derrick Wolfe, DeShon Elliott, and yesterday Jimmy Smith, Calais Campbell, Patrick Merkari, Nick Boyle, Patrick Richard and Lamar Jackson: FIVE. That’s 11 guys projected to start the season, and five significant role players who didn’t play yesterday. If the Ravens fired Harbaugh, which – thankfully – they won’t, he’d be unemployed for about an hour.

    0 3 Rate This

    ———————-

    Jimmy Smith, Campbell and Wolfe are old and finished and DeCosta and his neighbor, little Johnny, can pat each other on the back over their awful draft picks in recent years and their promotion of Lamar Jackson to the press all they want.

    It’s still on them.

    When the Pats have lost 4-5 key players in a season, NE goes to conference title games, while Baltimore will miss the playoffs.

    Harbaugh has also led the Ravens to 3 straight missed playoff seasons recently.

    Hubris.

  27. Ask the Vikings about going for two points early.
    They lost to the Panthers in OT by going for 2 points during the game when they were winning lol.
    The Detroit game they lost by 2 points by going for 2 points TWICE.
    You never go for 2 points unless it comes down to the last possession because if you miss you are always chasing it and you give the momentum back to the opposing team.

  28. Disagree. IF the ravens had just 2 minutes or so left, then sure, go for the 2. But there were 9 minutes left in the game. Things could have changed where a 2-point conversion would not even be necessary.
    Add in the fact that they were going for 2 with a backup QB and it made no sense to me.

  29. Since going for two is more risky than an extra point and since you don’t really know that you will need 2 points until right near the end of the game, a coach giving his team the best chance to win should put it off as long as possible

  30. Disagreed. Only go for two when you know you need it or if the offense is on fire and you’re confident you’ll get it.

  31. Can’t believe this is even a question. Of course you go for 2 as early as possible. He laid out the rationale perfectly. Knowing what you need to do is always better than hoping things will work out somehow.

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