It is well-known that the NFL changed their extra-point rules to start the 2015 season. Extra points would now be kicked from the 15 yard line from the 2 yard line, and to the surprise of many, Kickers started missing extra points left and right (no pun intended). The two-point conversion would be staying at the 2 yard line, but this even combined with the added added misses on extra points, didn’t see much of an increase outside of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin believes his team has the perfect trio for two-point conversions - QB Big Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, and WR Antonio Brown. Big Ben is a big enough QB who can run it in himself. Bell is an elite Back who could run it in or catch it out of the backfield. Brown is arguably one of the best wide receivers in the NFL who can go up and catch any ball thrown to him. But guess what? It shouldn’t take talent like this for more NFL teams to go for the two-point conversion.
The guys over at numberFire actually did some great and simple math. In total, 2,484 extra points were attempted in 2016. Of those, 2,335 were made, for a 94% success rate. That means for every extra point attempted, approximately 0.94 points get added to score of the scoring team. On the other hand, two-point conversions had a success rate of 49.75%. Because this is over two points, that means approximately 0.995 points get added per try.
So what does this mean? Basically, a two-point try is actually more valuable to a team’s success than simply kicking the extra point. Want a first-hand example? Look no further than Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders, with Head Coach Jack Del Rio going for two and the win late in the game instead of kicking the extra point and accepting overtime.
While the Oakland 2PC came late in the fourth quarter, numberFire actually broke down success rate of tries in the fourth quarter compared to the first three quarters. Possibly because teams are more prepared to defend against two-point tries late, there was actually a greater success rate, with each try coming in the first three quarters worth 1.029 points.
This means that not only should the Saints generally try going for two points more often and forego the extra point attempt, they need to do so earlier in the game rather than later. They don’t need a big-frame QB like Big Ben. Quarterback Drew Brees has plenty of offensive weapons in RB Mark Ingram, WR Brandin Cooks, WR Michael Thomas, WR Willie Snead and TE Coby Fleener to find in the endzone.
Sean Payton has long been known to be an offensive-minding innovative head coach. It’s time to put that to the test in 2017 and start following the numbers: leave K Wil Lutz on the bench after a touchdown and punch it in for two.