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Why Pat Shurmur made the right call on Giants’ failed 2-point try vs. Falcons

The result wasn’t favorable, but Pat Shurmur made the right call in going for the two-point conversion late against the Falcons.

New York Giants v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football, New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur made a controversial call ... that shouldn’t be considered controversial at all. In the fourth quarter, Shurmur and the Giants went for a two-point conversion after scoring a touchdown when his team trailed by 14 points.

The attempt was a pass to Odell Beckham Jr., who was open enough to throw to, but the defender managed to get in and break it up at the last moment:

The two-point conversion failed, and plenty of people — especially the Monday Night Football broadcast crew — piled on Shurmur for the decision:

Others, though, pointed out exactly why it makes sense to go for two in that situation. You can reach this conclusion through a mystical art form known as “basic mathematics.”

Just a couple weeks ago, people were talking about Doug Pederson’s smart move by going for two against the Vikings. From that same decision, Football Perspective gave us some ... perspective on the matter.

Or if you’re a more visual learner, you can see a nice chart here:

“We’ve discussed, internally, the math on that,” Shurmur said after the game. “You increase your chances by 50 percent if you go for it and make it there. ... Because then if we score a touchdown, we just kick the extra point and win.”

“I felt like we had a good play. I liked our two-point play selections, and we just didn’t quite get it done.”

On the next drive, the Falcons gambled on a 56-yard field goal attempt by new kicker Giorgio Tavecchio. It paid off, making it a 23-12 game. If they hadn’t tried the field goal — or missed instead — the Giants would have had a chance to tie.

“But at the end there, you saw, had they not kicked the field goal, I felt good about our second two-point play, which we scored on,” Shurmur said.

The Giants scored a touchdown on their next drive and converted their second two-point conversion attempt, when they handed it to Saquon Barkley to make it a three-point game:

This is all on top of the fact that the NFL is trending more and more toward high-powered offenses as the rules change.

”I felt like I wanted to be aggressive for our guys,” Shurmur said.

Odell Beckham agreed with the decision. “I like the call. I love being aggressive,” he said after the game. “I don’t know if I could be a coach. I’m going for it on fourth. We’re going for 2. That’s why I’m not a coach. I’m always going to ride with him. I just wish I could have come up with it”

The Giants wound up losing Monday’s game, 23-20. Despite the late touchdown and two-point conversion, they had just five seconds on the clock while trailing by three points. They then failed to convert the onside kick.

But make no mistake, they didn’t lose because Shurmur tried to go for two.