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Why NFL teams are going for 2 after a touchdown cuts opponent’s lead to 8

Teams are using analytics more and more. Week 4 saw it used quite a bit in big fourth quarter situations.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford drops back to pass during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Ford Field. Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has been slow moving forward in the world of analytics, but each year we see it used more and more. And in Week 4 of the 2020 regular season, we’re seeing a bit of a groundswell.

Multiple teams were down by 14 in the fourth quarter and proceeded to score a touchdown to cut the opponent’s lead to 8 pending the extra point. We saw it with the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Cincinnati Bengals, and then we saw it again when the Detroit Lions cut into the New Orleans Saints’ lead.

Both teams went for 2 in an attempt to cut the lead to 6. The Jaguars failed on the conversion attempt and the Lions were successful. Both remained down by a single possession, although the Jaguars would need a touchdown and two point conversion to tie.

The thinking is you are increasing your chances of winning the game in regulation. If you convert the 2, you’re down six and a touchdown with extra point wins the game. You don’t have to worry about overtime and the statistics show it increases your chances of winning. It may not swing a game entirely, but it adjusts it enough to be worth the attempt.

Bravo to both the Jaguars and Lions for going for two 2 in those situations. It only worked for one of the two teams, but it was the right call for both.