If you often watch football on Sundays you have likely heard the commentators use the term “go for two”. Avid football fans may know what this means but for many of those new to football, the term can be confusing.
To go for two in football refers to choosing to attempt a two-point conversion after a touchdown instead of a one-point conversion.
The vast majority of the time when teams score touchdowns a single point kick will be attempted by the offense.
And since a touchdown is worth six points this one-point kick will bring the points scored to seven. But if a team elects to go for two the offense has a chance to get eight points as a result of a touchdown.
These one and two points conversions are referred to as PATs which stands for point(s) after touchdown.
On a two-point conversion, the offense will have one attempt to get the ball into the endzone from the two-yard line. If they are able to get the ball into the end zone via run or pass they will be awarded two points.
If they are unable to score on the two-point conversion then the team will not earn any points after the touchdown. This would leave them with six points scored on the drive.
When should you go for a two-point conversion?
As we stated earlier in the article the majority of the time a team scores a touchdown they will simply kick the PAT for single point. This begs the question when should teams be going for two points?
Extending The Lead
One of the most common situations in which a team will decide to go for two points instead of one is during a close game.
For example, let’s say a team scores a touchdown and is now up by one point. If they are able to get a one-point conversion they will be winning by two points and if they get two points they will be up by three.
In this situation, a one-point conversion does not offer them much value. If they score the one-point conversion they will lose the lead if the opposing team kicks a field goal.
But if the team is able to get a two-point conversion then they will be up by three points. This means if the other team drives down the field and kicks a field goal the game will only be tied.
This strategy can also be used by a team looking to catch up late in a game. Going for a two-point conversion may tie the game when a one-point conversion would still have you down by a point.
One Score Vs Two Score Lead
Another reason a team may elect to go for two is to ensure that their team has a two-score lead. With two-point conversions, teams are able to score eight points on a single drive.
This means if you are up by more than eight points your opponents will have to score twice in order to win.
If a team scores a touchdown to go up by seven points and they will have to choose whether to go for one or two points. A single point would still make it a one-score game, meaning the opponents could catch up with a single score.
But if the team goes for two and converts it they could be up by nine points. This would mean the opposing team would have to score in multiple positions to tie the game or take the lead.
Oftentimes teams will go for two in order to make it a two-score game. Though this is usually only done late in the game when their opponents do not have much time to score.
Riding The Hot Hand
In football, you may find that at certain times offenses are playing well and it is best to trust them. And on some occasions coaches decide to do this instead of going to overtime.
This usually happens when a team scores a last-second touchdown when down by seven points. The six points from the touchdown put you down by one point.
The coach must then decide to kick the point for the tie or go for two for the win.
If the coach believes in his offense, or believes they are likely going to lose in overtime they will often go for two.
If they convert the two-point conversion they win the game and if they fail the conversion they lose.
This is as risky as it gets in the NFL yet when teams are put in the situation coaches will often choose to go for two. This is especially common if the team with the choice of going for two has noticed the momentum of the game switch towards their opponents.