The Cleveland Browns made a controversial decision to go for two with 2:10 left in the game. Upon further review, it was the best decision to make.
The Cleveland Browns attempt at a two-point conversion was absolutely the correct call.
With 2:10 left in the game the Browns were trailing 28-19. Having just scored, Hue Jackson faced a difficult decision. Does he go for two now? Or does he wait until the Browns possibly score again and go for two then?
Either way, the Browns would have to go for a two-point conversion to tie the game. Down fifteen before the aforementioned touchdown, the Browns would need two touchdowns, an extra point and a two-point conversion just to tie the game.
Jackson was faced with a question he only had 10 seconds to answer. Go for two now? Or wait until the Browns score again, if they score again?
Utilizing the Utilitarian Method (John Locke would be proud), let us examine the positives and negatives of this decision. As the Browns fan base is comprised of half-glass empty type people, let us look at the negatives first.
The negatives of going for two with 2:10 left in the game are very few.
Going for two when down nine points does have some negative drawbacks. If they Browns were unable to get the two-point conversion, they would be three scores down while playing with momentum at the end of the game. With only 2:10 left on the clock, the failure to achieve the two points effectively puts the game out of reach. This is the scenario that happened causing Browns fans to get angry.
When asked about the missed two-point conversion, Jackson answered:
I think you kind of need to know exactly what you are going to need in these possessions, whether you are going to need to onside kick or not. The only way to know that is you have to take a shot at going for two. It gives you a better idea of what you are going to need within the next possession. We went for it. You make it, and it is 21-28, right? That is what it would have been. Obviously, then you don’t. Now, you know you are going to have to kick the field goal and now onside kick.
Beyond this one negative, there is not a single negative about going for two at that time.
The positives of going for two far outweigh the negatives.
First, if the Browns make the two-point conversion the score is 21-28. The Browns are within one touchdown of tying the game. Then the Browns needed to get an onside kick, score a touchdown and the game would be tied.
Second, the psychological advantage would tremendous. If the team got the two-point conversion, a team who was already rolling well would have had a major boost heading into the onside kick. The momentum would be favorable to the Browns with a tie in sight.
Third, the team had just moved the ball effectively. With the team moving the ball effectively, it is best to parlay that momentum in to a two-point play.
Had they made the two-point conversation, this article would not be written. The Browns were down by fifteen. They would have had to gone for two at some point to tie the game. Going for two defined the how the rest of the game would play out, good or bad.
Unfortunately, it played out bad, but had it gone the Browns way. We might be discussing an overtime win right now. The fact that Jackson is taking well calculated chances bodes well for the Browns’ future.