How did 2-point attempt failure in first half impact Tennessee Titans' strategy late in Bengals game?
But the Bengals were penalized on the potential try for having 12 players on the field. Titans coach Mike Vrabel decided to count the penalty on a 2-point conversion attempt instead of the kickoff, moving the ball in that situation from the Bengals' 2-yard line to the 1.
Titans running back Derrick Henry, though, was stopped just short of the goal on the 2-point try, leaving the game score tied at 6 with 6 minutes, 7 seconds left in the second quarter.
It'll be a offseason for the Titans and their fans as they mull over every factor in the 19-16 loss to the Bengals at Nissan Stadium.
As Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan put it after the game: "August is a long way away."
The Titans and Bengals were tied at 16 until the final play, Evan McPherson's game-winning field goal, and it would make sense to wonder about that missed 2-point try and whether the risk of going for two from the Bengals' 1-yard line was worth eschewing the extra point.
"We tried to score from a yard," Vrabel said, succinctly, when asked about the decision.
Let's dive into it.
From ESPN's Kevin Seifert: 2-point conversion attempt success rate from the 2-yard line is just under 50%, at 48.5%, while tries from the 1-yard line are successful 62.4% of the time.
NFL kickers made 93.4% of their extra points in 2021-22, with Titans kicker Randy Bullock going 42-of-45 (93.3) this season and making all 13 of his extra point attempts after the early December bye week.
As Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz explained on Twitter, the expected points from a 2-point try from the 1-yard line is more than an extra point by the numbers. In this case, it would be about 1 expected point from a normal extra point, and about 1.25 expected points from a two-point attempt from the 1-yard line.
The risk, of course, is in the percentages of converting. An extra point is nearly, but not entirely, a certain make, while a 2-point try from any place on the field is a larger risk.
Still, by the numbers, Vrabel's risk appeared to be rooted in an accurate analysis of the statistics.
The question on Titans fans' minds will be about the impact on how Tennessee and Cincinnati would have played out the fourth quarter in something other than a 16-16 tie game.
That also would be a simplistic analysis that discounts what all could have unfolded differently throughout the second half. One doesn't have to play the string out long enough to see that the Bengals themselves would have had a decision after their third-quarter touchdown. It's a possibility that Zac Taylor and Cincinnati go for a 2-point conversion themselves in a 15-7 game before the extra point try. A 10-point lead is different than a 9-point lead.
That string produces more strings, which play out differently. Yes, a 16-7 game could have turned into a 17-16 Titans lead (had the Titans' two scores played out the same way) that the Tennessee offense would have nursed in the final minutes instead of throwing the ball in a drive that resulted in Ryan Tannehill's third interception. But the Bengals' game-management aggressiveness could have changed, even with two fourth-and-long punts near midfield in the fourth quarter.
Re-legislating tough losses are a symptom of playoff losses, given the long layoff between now and Game No. 1 of the 2022 Titans regular season. Little is fair, and by the numbers, the Titans' 2-point conversion attempt in the first half was a risk-reward that failed.