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Two Point Conversion when Down 8 Late

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Old 12-10-2011, 08:56 AM   #1
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Icon3 Two Point Conversion when Down 8 Late

I don't know why this isn't standard strategy, much less why I've never seen it IRL.

If you are 14 points down late in a game and you score a TD, why not go for two? If this decision matters, then you have to assume that you will score another TD and shut out your opponent over the last few minutes of regulation time.

Let's assume the 2 point conversion is 50% and a kick is 100% for simplicity sake. If you go for two after the first TD you win the game 50% of the time, tie 25% of the time and lose 25% of the time. Add to that the fact that the kick isn't 100% and the advantages of going for two becomes even greater.

IRL the kick is 96% and I found estimates of anywhere from 40% to 55% for a two point conversion. (I think you will find the success rate to be well over 50% in NFL HC 09).

Let's assume 40%.

Win 38.4% (.4 * .96)
Lose 36% (.6 *.6)

So even the low-ball estimates make it mathematically correct to go for two.

The only down side I see is that after you are successful, an opponent who might otherwise run out the clock will try to score. I don't think many teams run out the clock anyway if they are in a favorable position to score a FG and win rather than going to OT.

I did read a couple of articles on the merits of going for 2 points after every TD. The benefit is small and of questionable value. Plus, IRL, such a strategy would necessarily consume practice time currently devoted to something else that is probably more valuable. In this game it would probably be profitable but would change the feel of the simulation.
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Old 12-10-2011, 11:15 AM   #2
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Re: Two Point Conversion when Down 8 Late

I think IRL you find coaches who are aggressive in other areas of the field, but who are reluctant to turn down a virtually-sure PAT in favor of a less-certain two-point conversion. I believe their own players, their owners, the fans and the media would tend to turn against hyper-aggressive coaches after a single loss - and coaches tend to value their own job security.

In game, I'm pretty confident I could convert well over 50% on 2PCs - but I'm playing against an AI with limited goal-line defense savvy, and I have a good list of goal-line plays that I run that get me what I want. Like points.
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Old 12-10-2011, 01:21 PM   #3
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Re: Two Point Conversion when Down 8 Late

One of the articles I read before posting went through all the math-a-ma-jazz for an NFL team. They put the value of going for 2 after every TD over the course of the season at 3 points. I can see why a coach would find more important things to work on. Time is, after all, one of the resources he must budget!

That really wasn't what I wanted to discuss and on reflection wish I had not included that last paragraph in my post.

What do you do if you are 14 points down and you score with 3:00 to play. Whatever your conversion choice, the rest of the plan is to get the ball back without your opponent scoring and with enough time left on the clock to give you a chance to score another TD. It's the conversions that are interesting.

No one goes for it after the second TD when they need 1 to tie the game and 2 to win (Actually Herman Edwards did with KC against the Chargers in 2008.). As you pointed out, the perception of the ignorant becomes the reality of the pink slip!

But to go for it after the first TD gives you one chance to win and another chance to tie if the first doesn't work out. Sigh.

I will share a story of how this strategy did and didn't work out in the same game. In another post I related that I recovered from a 42-14 deficit. When it was 42-28 and I scored a TD, I went for 2 and made it. I later took a 43-42 lead providing a just reward for my superior planning. Then my opponent returned my KO for a TD and went for 2 to go up 50-43. There is no justice! There was more but that's a different story!

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A similar intellectual problem is when to go for 2 if you are 15 points down and score a TD. I need to know if I'm going to make the 2 point conversion so I can plan for one score or two. I need to know now. But they always put off going for two as long as possible. I suppose real football players might get discouraged and give up if you failed.

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Here's another. Fourth and goal at the one yard line with ample time on the clock. I've seen coaches go both ways but I've never seen anyone explain why going for it should be the only logical choice.

Never mind, here's an interesting article that covers it better than I did.

http://www.advancednflstats.com/2008...urth-down.html
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Old 12-10-2011, 03:08 PM   #4
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Re: Two Point Conversion when Down 8 Late

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheeler Dealer
What do you do if you are 14 points down and you score with 3:00 to play. Whatever your conversion choice, the rest of the plan is to get the ball back without your opponent scoring and with enough time left on the clock to give you a chance to score another TD. It's the conversions that are interesting.
If you go for it the first time, you've got to be ready to go for it twice: if you fail the first one, you'll have to make it up on the second to tie. If you succeed at the first one, you can kick a PAT the second time.
Quote:
No one goes for it after the second TD when they need 1 to tie the game and 2 to win (Actually Herman Edwards did with KC against the Chargers in 2008.). As you pointed out, the perception of the ignorant becomes the reality of the pink slip!

But to go for it after the first TD gives you one chance to win and another chance to tie if the first doesn't work out. Sigh.
Precisely.
Quote:
A similar intellectual problem is when to go for 2 if you are 15 points down and score a TD. I need to know if I'm going to make the 2 point conversion so I can plan for one score or two. I need to know now. But they always put off going for two as long as possible. I suppose real football players might get discouraged and give up if you failed.
In this situation in-game, I'd also go early. IRL... eh.
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Old 12-10-2011, 08:02 PM   #5
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Re: Two Point Conversion when Down 8 Late

If you miss the first 2 point conversion, you're down 8. That means, unless you can hit on the next 2 point conversion, you have to score one more time to win the game. Given that you've already missed one 2 pointer, and the fact that 2 point conversions are much less likely to be converted than 1 pointers, and you're basically gambling for nearly no gain.

I mean, basically you're gambling that if you don't make one of them, you can make the other. And the odds are heavily stacked against you making two of them, so all you're really doing is hoping to tie the game with one 2 pointer when you could have done the same thing with 2 PAT's.

Also, you have the human factor to think about. If you go for it the first time and miss it, you put even more pressure on your team because now, they have to score a TD and get the 2 pointer. That kind of thing, when your team has for all intents and purposes closed the lead to 7 and you by a coaching decision wind up extending it back to 8 due to a missed conversion, can take the wind out of your sails. It can also fire up the other team. A missed 2 pointer in that instance just looks like it could really drain the fire out of any comeback attempt to me. Down by 7 is a much better place to be psychologically than down by 8.

It's the same thing if you're down 15 as you said. Generally, you go for 2 on the second TD. You want to extend the game as long as possible and keep your players thinking that they have a realistic chance at the game.
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Old 12-11-2011, 01:03 AM   #6
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Re: Two Point Conversion when Down 8 Late

You may be right. The potential impact on the momentum may outweigh the math. That could be why you don't see it done IRL.

Another reason might be job security. Coaches don't get fired for making the standard calls and losing. They do get fired for making offbeat calls and losing.

I do think you missed one important part of the plan. You never have to make 2, 2 point conversions. If you make the first 2 pointer, you're going for 1 after the second TD.

Assume you can make 47% of your 2 point tries and 100% of your kicks.

So 47% of the time you win because you made the first 2 pointer.

When you fail on the first try, you have another chance to get back to a tie.

You win 47%, lose 28% and break even 25%.

Of the 25% you should win half in OT so altogether you win 59.5% and lose 40.5% instead of the 50-50 you get for kicking twice.
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Old 12-11-2011, 01:37 AM   #7
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Re: Two Point Conversion when Down 8 Late

Alright I know math is a big part of pro football, but let's get out of the textbooks and back onto the field. Think about this: when deciding whether to go for the 2 pointer, do you trust your defense? If you trust your defense enough you'd go for 1 and let them get the ball back for you in OT. If not then the call is obvious. That's why you don't see real NFL coaches go for 2 more often; they trust their defense to stop their opponent in OT. Then again there is always going for 1 and then recovering an onside kick. If you accomplish that all you'd need to do is get to within your kicker's field goal range and use up as much clock as you can. Also you have to take their defense into consideration also. Have they been stopping your run game all day or disrupting your passing game and making your QB nervous? All I'm saying is football is more than just percentages and certainly is not a game of chance.
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