For Two or Not for Two

By Aaron Goldhammer

As Colt McCoy was leading the Browns’ game tying scoring drive in the 4th quarter of Sunday afternoon’s game, I looked over at Kenny Roda and Chris Fedor in the press box and asked a question that will haunt Eric Mangini this week. “If they score here,” I said. “Do they dare go for two?”

In dissecting Mangini’s decision to kick the extra point the day after the heart-breaking loss, I decided to employ the ingenious “Carrie Bradshaw approach.” (And yes…I just make a Sex and the City reference in a blog on EspnCleveland.com). Enumerate the pros and cons of “going for two” and see which list is longer. See my final tally below and add any additions on either side via the comments section. I’ll read the best one’s on the show throughout the week.

One more note…I found this article from the New York Times from earlier this year that has some really good stats and information about the success rate of two-point plays. Certainly an interesting read…

Pros

1. The Browns offense was playing with momentum. Colt McCoy was hot, the Jets defense was on its heals, and Cleveland easily could have hit one more pass for the win.

2. The team that wins the toss in overtime wins the majority of the time. Why leave your fortunes to a coin flip when these two yards are under your control?

3. The Jets have more playmakers than the Browns. The longer you play against them the more likely it is that one of their guys is going to make a big play. See: Santonio Holmes

4. The Browns biggest offensive weapon is Peyton Hillis. The Jets were without their run-stuffing nose tackle, Kris Jenkins. The above Times piece says that rushing two-point plays were successful 57.1 percent of the time in 2009. If you choose to run…Advantage: Cleveland

Cons

1. According to Football Outsiders, NFL teams converted two point plays only 45.3 percent of the time in 2009. There is no doubt that Mangini and the Browns coaching staff were aware of this stat during Sunday’s game. Frankly, Mangini is right. Two-point plays are a huge risk and Cleveland had a better chance of winning in overtime.

2. In reality, the Browns best chance to win was the moment before Chansi Stuckey’s overtime fumble. If he had hung onto the ball, Phil Dawson likely would have had a makeable field goal for the win.

3. The Browns were playing at home. Conventional wisdom says that you play for the tie at home and the win on the road.

4. The Jets might have more offensive talent, but QB Mark Sanchez was hobbled and had not played as well since injuring his leg. He had just nearly cost his team a turnover in the red zone by throwing a terrible pass that Abe Elam should have intercepted.

My gut? Take your chances and run Hillis, but I can’t really disagree with Mangini either way.

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1 Comment

  1. Aaron i listen to you everyday and some times you make me wonder if you know anything about sports.

    that is just an honest oppinion.

    but other times like this i see you do know what you are talking about.

    1 more reason to go for the 2 points is this Hillis is 7 for 7 on short yardage 3rd downs ( less than 3 yards) this season for you. also you have a Pro Bowl caliper lead Blocker and 2-3 Pro-Bowl caliper linemen (Mack may not be there just yet but its that close) to lead the way for Hillis.


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