Up 23-16, Should Tennessee Titans Have Gone for 2-Point Conversion?


Sep 15, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) converts a two-point conversion against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at Reliant Stadium. The Texans won 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans were leading the Houston Texans, 17-16. Alterraun Verner picks off a Matt Schaub pass and returns it for a 23-yard touchdown. With 4:59 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Titans lead 23-16. They tack on the extra point to extend their lead to 24-16.

Conventional wisdom suggests kicking extra point with a seven-point lead (here’s the two-point conversion chart). Fan wisdom doesn’t always abide to the norm. After listening to Nashville sports talk radio over the last few days (104.5 FM), some Titans enthusiasts have questioned whether it would’ve made more sense to attempt the two-point conversion.

Here’s the logic: An extra point creates the “one possession to tie, two possessions to win” scenario. The Texans could—and did—tie the game with a two-point conversion. They tied the game and captured all of the momentum.

Up 23-16, what if the Titans went for two? If they make it, they’ve extended their lead to 25-16. In 4:59 seconds, the Texans would’ve needed a touchdown, possibly an onside-kick recovery (depending on their timeout situation and how quick they scored) and another field goal to win. If the Titans miss it, the Texans could’ve won the game with a two-point conversion, 24-23.

On Mike Munchak’s Tuesday night radio show with Mike Keith (Titans Tonight), Munchak admitted that he wasn’t worried about the Texans going for two. He did claim that he would’ve made the same decision had he been faced with another seven-point lead. Kicking the extra point was the safest bet to assuring at least a two-possession game.

From after the first drive to five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Titans defense was dominant. Munchak probably wasn’t too worried about his unit surrendering 14 consecutive points before the Titans could score anything. On Twitter, I noticed most of my followers were talking about how they were ready to end the day as the only 2-0 AFC South team. No lack of confidence there.


I’m not a supernatural being. Therefore, I’m not going to claim that everyone who favored the two-point conversion is using 20/20 hindsight. With that said, it’s an interesting concept where I’d certainly consider it if the opponent’s quarterback was Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers—you get the point.

Schaub? No way. I would’ve forced him to beat me with pinpoint accuracy and incredible catches from Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. And Schaub would’ve beaten me with pinpoint accuracy and incredible catches from both receivers.

Another thing to consider: are you confident that the offense would’ve capitalized on one chance to get two yards against the Texans’ bunched-up goal-line defense? I wasn’t.

I’d love to know what the statistics and probabilities are for a team after they’ve tied a game down eight points. How often does the team convert the two-point conversion to tie the game? How often do they ride that momentum train to victory?

How do our readers feel about such situations? When the Titans went up 23-16, would you have gone for a two-point conversion? Would you have gone for an extra point but understand the reasons for a two-point conversion? Maybe you’re completely baffled as to why anyone would risk the two-point conversion? Does it depend on opposing quarterback?

Answer in the poll below. Discuss on Disqus, Twitter and Facebook.

ESPN Box Score
The Red Zone: Two-Point Conversion Chart