Yesterday the Broncos beat the Chargers on a last minute touchdown and two-point conversion. The conversion put them ahead one, which means that a regular extra point kick would have tied the game and probably led to overtime. But coach Mike Shanahan made the gutsy call, went for two, and won.
Gutsy. I bet that word shows up in a lot of the press about that game today.
Here’s an interesting note though: “According to STATS Inc., seven teams have gone for 2 when down by a point inside the 2-minute warning of the fourth quarter since the 2-point conversion was instituted in 1994. Three of those were successful.” (Information courtesy of ESPN.com.) I’m not sure if that figure includes Denver’s successful attempt or not, but looking at it either way, it sounds like Shanahan is actually taking a bigger risk than playing for OT, no? If 3 of 7 attempts prior to his were successful, that means his odds of winning by going for two were about 42%; if it was actually 2 of 6, then the odds of winning were only 33%. But if he goes into overtime his odds are basically 50/50. If we ignore the “game on the line” scenario and just look at the data on two point conversions in general, the success rate is about 40% over many attempts and many NFL seasons – still a good bit lower than the coin flip (figurative, not literal) of playing for overtime. Even factoring in the nearly negligible chance of missing the extra point attempt to tie, it seems like playing for overtime rather than the immediate win is smarter – if not as gutsy.
But maybe Shanahan knows something that I don’t. After all, Norv likes to lose.