Romeo Crennel and Ron Rivera both called for two-point conversions in key spots during Week 6. Neither the Texans nor Washington Football Team could convert.
Despite the unsucessful tries and the losses that ensued for each — Giants 20-19 over WFT; Titans 42-36 over Houston — both Crennel and "Riverboat Ron" made the correct choice to attempt the two-point conversions. Both attempts would have won football games, which had lower chancesof being true if extra points had been kicked.
Here's why Crennel and Rivera made their risky calls on Sunday.
Why did Romeo Crennel and the Texans go for two points?
With 1:50 remaining in Sunday's game against the Titans, Deshaun Watson threw a 1-yard touchdown to Brandin Cooks. It put Houston up, 36-29, already a seven-point lead. An extra point would have forced the Titans to drive down the field, score a touchdown and convert a two-point conversion.
But in this case, a two-point conversion would put the Texans up nine points, a margin that could not be closed on a single possession for Tennessee with less than two minutes to play. If it worked, Houston would've locked in a win against a division rival on the road.
"I wanted to go ahead and get the two points," Crennel told media postgame. "It would have put the game out of reach for them."
Houston put the ball in Watson's hands to make a play, and after moving around, he had Randall Cobb wide open in the center of the end zone. Only an extended hand at the line of scrimmage stopped the Texans from going up nine.
Former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon, the CBS color commentator for the game, trashed the decision on the broadcast.
"Force the other team to not only have to score a TD but also convert a two-point play just to play for the tie," Gannon said. "All these analytics and stuff. Here is what I got when to go up by 7 you kick the extra point and make it an eight-point game.”
But what the Titans did next basically proved Gannon wrong and Crennel right. They drove down the field, and Ryan Tannehill threw a touchdown to A.J. Brown to get within a point. A Stephen Gostkowski extra point tied the game. Then Tennessee won the overtime coin toss, and Derrick Henry capped the drive with a rushing touchdown.
Houston went up seven points with 1:50 left, never saw the ball again, and lost. In part due to NFL overtime rules, that was always a possibility if they had gone up eight points, too. The only way the Texans would've basically guaranteed a win was with a successful two-point conversion.
Why did Ron Rivera and Washington go for two points?
Washington completed a 75-yard drive with 36 seconds left in regulation Sunday. It began with a 20-13 deficit, but Kyle Allen threw a 22-yard touchdown to Cam Sims to bring the WFT within one. On the road, Washington had the option of kicking an extra point to tie the game or trying the two-point conversion to likely win it.
Rivera is known for his strategic agressiveness, which earned him the nickname "Riverboat Ron" while he was head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Naturally, Rivera called for the two-point conversion.
"The only way you learn to win is to play to win," Rivera said when asked about the decision postgame.
On the try, Allen scrambled to his left and appeared to have a rushing path to the end zone before pulling back, being hit and throwing an incompletion. A failed onside kick attempt followed, and Washington handed the Giants their first win of the season.
New York radio host Mike Francesca questioned Rivera's move on Twitter.
If you are Ron Rivera, why would you fear going to OT against an offense that hadn't scored in second half? Just wondering.— Mike Francesa (@MikeFrancesa) October 18, 2020
That'll be the popular counter to Rivera's decision to go for two. But the Washington Football Team had also struggled to put drives together Sunday with Allen leading the way, and on the road with no guarantee of touching the ball in overtime, Rivera chose to run a play that, if successful, would surely result in a victory. Just because the result was wrong doesn't mean the process was.