So all the talk yesterday about extra points and two-point conversions got me thinking about a game that gave me quite a few sleepless nights last year. With the definitely prestigious Governor's Cup at stake, the Houston Texans traveled north to face the Dallas Cowboys in AT&T Stadium. We'll skip ahead to the end of the 4th quarter.
After an intentional grounding penalty by one Tony Romo and a 14-yard punt return by one Keshawn Martin, the Texans had the ball at the Cowboys' 45-yard-line with 1:59 left in the 4th quarter. They were down 7 at the time, staring at a potential game-tying drive ahead of them. But should it have been game-winning drive instead?
The drive before, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Arian Foster moved the Texans down the field on a 76-yard drive that ended in a Randy Bullock field goal, cutting Dallas' lead to seven points. A quick three-and-out gave them the ball right back in superb field position and all the momentum in the world.
And they would not falter.
Consecutive 20-yard passes to Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins set up Foster for an easy, two-putt touchdown from six yards out, bringing the score to 17-16 with just 45 seconds left.
Of course, we all know how it ends. Bullock trots out and makes the easy extra point... the Cowboys drive down the field and miss game-winning field goal... they go into overtime... O'Brien/Fitzpatrick decide to pass on 3rd-and-2... and we get to suffer another four years of Cowboys fans gloating over us... unless we meet in the Super Bowl before then!
All that tragedy could have been avoided if hot shot rookie head coach Bill O'Brien had decided to go for two points instead of tying the game at 17. The reasons for him doing so are threefold:
- Arian Foster was killing it. He and the offensive line were having their way with Dallas' defense, shredding them for 157 yards at 6.8 ypc clip. Even the threat of a run on a play action pass would have been viable if the defense completely stacked the box on a 2-point attempt.
- A non-conference game has lower stakes than a conference game. If the conversion attempt failed, it wouldn't have hurt the team's playoff hopes as much as a loss against, say, the Ravens or Patriots. A loss is a loss, but it wouldn't have affected tie-breaking scenarios.
- They're a huge in-state rival. I'm sure O'Brien isn't all that concerned with the hate the two fan bases share, but there's no doubt that he's aware of it. There was no better candidate on the schedule for completely selling out for a win, consequences (see #2) be damned. Yes, he would have caught some heat if it had failed, but the benefits of going into Jerry World and stealing a late-game victory would have been worth the risk.
All of this is just second-guessing with the benefit of hindsight, of course. And this would be moot if Dan Bailey had made that 53-yarder with three seconds left.
But I think going for 2 points -- and the potential victory -- was the best option, both statistically and in the context of the game. What say you, readers? Agree or nah? Let me know.