Touchdowns win football games. Turnovers win football games. Dominating the line of scrimmage wins football games.
But sometimes it’s 2-point conversions that win (or lose) football games.
Sunday wasn’t the best day for execution, or decision making, when it came to that sometimes crucial part of the game.
The Washington Football Team
The Situation: Washington (1-4) and the Giants (0-5) were reeling and desperate for a win to maintain some small chance of saving their seasons. With 36 seconds to go, Washington scored a touchdown to pull to 20-19. Coach Ron Rivera, who has earned the nickname Riverboat Ron because of some bold moves, decided to go for 2.
What Happened: Kyle Allen looked for a receiver in the end zone and couldn’t immediately find one. He rolled left and still couldn’t find one. Finally, just as he was about to be sacked, he unloaded a desperation pass that went to nobody. The Giants won, improving to 1-5.
The Criticism: “What is Ron doing? He can just kick the extra point and have a 50-50 chance of winning in overtime!”
The Excuse: “I’m playing to win,” Rivera told reporters. “I’m trying to get our players to understand this is how we’re going to do things. We’re going to do things to the max. We’re going to play to win football games.”
The Situation: Houston was up, 30-29, on the undefeated Tennessee Titans with 1 minute 50 seconds left and scored a touchdown on fourth-and-goal to go ahead by 7. Coach Romeo Crennel elected to go for 2 to try to get a 9-point lead.
What Happened: A Deshaun Watson pass attempt was tipped by a defender and fell incomplete. The Titans were down by 7, not 8 or 9. Tennessee then successfully executed a two-minute drill, and kicked the extra point to tie the score. In overtime, the Titans won the toss and drove down the field for a touchdown; the Texans never got the ball.
The Criticism: “Come on, Romeo! Take the 8-point lead. Then the Titans will have to score, make a 2-pointer, and even then you’re still tied.”
The Excuse: “I wanted to go ahead and get the 2 points,” Crennel told reporters. “It felt like that would kind of put it out of reach for them, and if we would have gotten it, we would have been in much better shape.”
The Situation: With 1:16 left, Philadelphia scored a touchdown to close to 30-28 against the heavily favored Baltimore Ravens. In this case, there was no tactical decision: They of course had to go for 2. The only question was what play to call.
What Happened: Carson Wentz faked a handoff to Boston Scott, then kept the ball himself. The two men seemed to get in each other’s way, and Wentz was quickly brought down.
The Criticism: “Yo, Carson Wentz led the team back from 18 down in the fourth quarter with his arm … and you’re not going to let him pass there?”
The Excuse: “I can do better as far as getting the play in and giving our guys a better opportunity play-call-wise in that situation,” Coach Doug Pederson told reporters. “But credit them; made the stop and just a little bit short.”