The Great Two-Point Debate: What Say You?

The war over kicking the PAT vs. going for two has been waged before, but two events have brought it back into the spotlight recently. The obvious being Mike Shanahan’s decision to go for two on Sunday, instead of sending the game to overtime, with the not-so-obvious being Redskins coach Jim Zorn opting to attempt the deuce, down by two, with five minutes left in the third quarter on Sunday. ↵

↵The latter stirred up a heated exchange between me, my brother and several Skins fans over at my other site, Mr. Irrelevant. I found the topic prime debate material, and one that any NFL fan is bound to have an opinion on. From where I sit, there are basically three ways to approach the PAT vs. two-point conversion: ↵

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  1. ↵⇥You only go for two in certain situations when it makes obvious sense. For example: You’re down two with not enough time for another possession or you’ve just scored a TD, but you’re still down five with enough time for one more possession.
  2. ↵⇥
  3. You always go for two after every touchdown, except for in obvious PAT situations (example: Just tied the game in the final minutes/seconds, PAT puts you ahead). Given the 54% success rate of conversions in the NFL over the past five seasons, on paper, a team’s successes/failures on two pointers would even out.
  4. ↵⇥
  5. You go by The Chart, which was invented about two years after the forward pass, yet is still followed by most NFL coaches. ↵⇥
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↵To me, The Chart is outdated and silly. It only takes into account the score in deciding when to go for two, not the time on the clock, the quarter or any other specifics of the game. Zorn followed The Chart on Sunday. It cost his team two points. So, really, coaches are left with two options: Go for two when you absolutely have to (which Zorn did not do ... nor did Shanahan, for that matter), or go for two virtually all the time. By going for it all the time, Zorn’s decision to attempt two with 20 minutes left in the game makes perfect sense. He failed on that conversion, but based on the 54/46 probability of success, the Skins would’ve converted the two-point attempt after their next touchdown. ↵

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↵I guess I’m “old school,” if that’s even possible at age 26. I believe in running the football, controlling the clock, playing outdoors, wearing leather helmets and, dammit, I believe in kicking the PAT and taking the points. Having said that, I can definitely see where the kids are coming from with their pro-two-point conversion philosophy. I’m just not totally sold on it yet. ↵

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↵But let’s take it to the streets, which was kinda the point of this post to begin with. What say you? ↵

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  • Go for two, unless situation demands PAT
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  • Kick PAT, unless situation demands going for two
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  • Follow The Chart
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↵⇥Created on Sep 18, 2008 ↵⇥
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↵⇥View Results ↵⇥

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↵(For the definitive view on going for two more often, check out Hogs Haven. For more on the topic, see also Y!'s Dan Wetzel and ESPN's Gregg Easterbrook.) ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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