The News-Times

2 go or not 2 go for 2-pointers is the question


2 go or not 2 go. That is the question.

It’s a query Ravens coach John Harbaugh has faced twice lately, and many times in the past. It’s one that fellow AFC North coach Mike Tomlin of the Steelers — yes, two of the NFL’s best sideline men — also has been asked a bunch.

There might not be a correct answer, regardless of what the charts and analytics say. Indeed, Tomlin was going for 2-point conversion­s in all sorts of situations even before analytics became a sports obsession.

“It’s part analytics, it’s part feel,” Tomlin says, recalling when he went for the deuce with the Steelers down late 29-20 against Minnesota. “Particular­ly in that instance, I wanted to be aggressive and go for the win, and so in an effort to do that, I think we needed two 2-point conversion­s. The first two scores that we got, we kicked the extra point. The third score we got, we went for two in an effort to set up the potential to play for the win on the last one if necessary.

“It’s just the mindset I had in those circumstan­ces. I thought we were too thin in the line of scrimmage to go into extra time, and so I did it with that understand­ing. But again, I never make those decisions based purely on one set of variables or one equation. … It’s a multitude of variables and game circumstan­ces, and that’s always the case.”

Ditto for Harbaugh, whose team is 2 for 8 on 2-pointers.

When he went for 2 against both Pittsburgh and Green Bay at the conclusion of key AFC North games, Harbaugh was recognizin­g what was left of his illness- and injury-ravaged Ravens. Baltimore’s secondary was such a mess at the Steelers that John Stallworth probably could have run right through it, and the Hall of Famer is 69 years old.

As for the redux against the Packers, well, kicking the tying point or going for 2 might not have mattered with Aaron Rodgers having 42 seconds left to march his team downfield.

“We had a lot of conversati­on with it on the phones at the time,” Harbaugh admitted. “I’ve thought about it all night — of course you do. There are two choices, and they’re both viable. Either one can turn out right. Either one can turn out wrong. It’s basically 50-50.

“We talked about a lot, we decided to go for it. It didn’t work out. I know half the people are going to say we should’ve kicked it, I get it. They can certainly criticize me for it. I’m OK with that, I criticize myself for it. You can’t dwell on it too much, because we definitely have to move on. … I think it’s a little bit like decisions in life.”

It takes guts to make such decisions. But they are not simply done spur of the moment. Plenty of planning goes into it, with such variables as score, opponent, weather and your team’s health.

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