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March 2000

March 2000


When to Go for 2

by: Harold Sackrowitz
Professor of Statistics, Rutgers University
© March 2000

The two-point conversion adds an interesting strategy option to the game of football. Its frequency of use is usually related to the level of play and, in particular, the quality of place kickers. At the high school and recreation level one sees many two-point attempts, while in the NFL there tends to be less than one attempt for every two games played. Even when its use is slight, its impact is often great. The decision to "go for two" is peculiar in that it is not really a "football" decision. By that, I mean that one cannot confidently rely solely on the gut feeling of an experienced football person. Except for obvious situations very late in a game, there are subtle probabilistic issues of a technical nature involved here.

Not Always in the Cards

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