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Bucs beat Eagles, allows Philadelphia to cover after late two-point conversion

The Eagles used analytics-informed decision-making to cover the spread.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a second half pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field on October 14, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held off a late rally by the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football to open Week 6. The Bucs led 28-7 at one point and held on after a fierce Philly rally to win 28-22.

The final score is notable because the Bucs closed the game as 6.5-point favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Bucs seemed like they would cruise to the cover, but an analytics decision prevented the cover. The Eagles scored a touchdown with 5:56 remaining to cut the Bucs lead to 28-20. Rather than kick the extra point, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni kept his offense on the field and attempted the two-point conversion.

It was successful!

Troy Aikman didn’t like the call, but the analytics suggest it is the smart play. Expected points added is an advanced stat that has led coaches to attempting more two-point conversions. The basic thought in a “down 14 situation” is that you need another touchdown regardless of the result. If you don’t convert the two on the first play, you’ll attempt it later. But if you convert the two-point conversion on the first of two touchdowns, the second score would give you the chance for a win.

Sirianni was playing to win rather than playing to tie. It didn’t pan out, but it was a sound strategy. And if you were backing the Bucs -6.5, no it is not a bad beat. It’s a tough way to lose, but it would not qualify in the bad beat given the necessity of the strategy.