All NFL fans in the past decade would agree that you shouldn’t model your organization off the Oakland Raiders. However, the Raiders may finally be doing something right despite their recent futility, and other NFL teams should take note. In week one, intrepid head coach Jack Del Rio coached the Raiders to a late comeback victory against the New Orleans Saints.
After Derek Carr’s 10-yard touchdown pass brought the Raiders within a point of the Saints with 47 seconds remaining, Del Rio decided to send his offense back on the field rather than kick the extra point and tie the game up. Carr completed a pass to Michael Crabtree for two points and the lead. The Raiders managed to hold on to their lead in the final minute and win the game.
This gutsy decision paid off for the Raiders and provided them with momentum and confidence as they begin their season.
The real story from this game, however, should not be the questionable decision to go for two. The real story should be why more teams are not doing exactly the same.
The 2016-17 season marks the second season since the NFL and its rules committee decided to move the extra point from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line, transforming what was once a 19-yard chip shot into a more challenging 33-yard kick.
In 2014, kickers converted at 99.2 percent rate. After the extra point was moved to the 15-yard line in 2015, the extra point conversion rate fell to 94.2 percent.
Of the 94 attempted two-point conversions last season, 47.9 percent were successfully converted. On average, 9.42 points were scored per ten extra points, while 9.57 points were scored per ten two-point conversion attempts.
As long as two-point conversions remain more than half as likely as an extra point, it is worth going for two.
Throughout week one this year, a record-tying 13 games were decided by single digits. Since the scores are so close, it might be worth it for teams to try to score every single point possible. When the playoffs come along, a single win can be the difference between packing up your locker and playing in the postseason.
Week one was chock-full of games where different teams could have won had they just tried to earn two points instead of one. In the heated Giants vs. Cowboys game, which the Giants ultimately won by a point, Giants kicker Randy Bullock missed a point after. Had the Cowboys decided to go for two points after their only touchdown of the game, they could have forced the game into overtime instead of screaming in agony as Terrance Williams failed to run out of bounds and stop the clock.
The Jets lost to the Bengals by one point when Jets kicker Nick Folk missed the point after an attempt in the second quarter. Even the primetime Sunday evening game could have had a different victor had the Cardinals decided to go for two points after each of their three touchdowns.
Those three additional points would have been enough to carry them to victory over a Tom Brady-less Patriots.
The movement of the extra point back to the 15-yard line has left teams feeling as though they need to heavily invest in kickers. This year’s draft saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade up in the second round in order to draft the seemingly automatic kicker from Florida State, Roberto Aguayo.
A move like this is usually reserved for key positional players. Aguayo would go on to miss his first preseason extra point along with two other short field goals, demonstrating that teams should divert their resources to players that are more active on the field rather than kicker positions.
While it remains absolute taboo to consider going for two after every touchdown, the proof is in the pudding. Coaches should not be criticized when their team fails to convert. As long as they get the next one, they are still ahead of the typical score.
Let’s all start taking notes from the example of an NFL franchise, the Oakland Raiders. Kick the old habit. Go for two.