Why the Jaguars’ decision to go for 2 – that failed – was correct


Game: Jacksonville at Houston, Sunday.

Situation: Houston up 13-12, fourth quarter, 30 seconds left, Jacksonville has just scored to make it a one-point game before the conversion.

The decision: Jags coach Doug Marrone can choose to kick the extra point and likely but not certainly send the game to overtime. Houston has a timeout left, meaning the Texans might have enough time to get into field-goal position in the waning seconds. Or Marrone can go for two. If Jacksonville doesn’t convert, it’s a loss. If Jacksonville converts to go up 14-13, it’s likely a win.

The thought process: Marrone said he had decided prior to the final Jacksonville possession that he’d go for two “with a certain amount of time left.” (Likely something less than a minute, so it would be tough for Houston to come back and kick a field goal.) Clearly, Marrone felt better about Jacksonville’s chances to make two points from two yards away that he did in kicking the PAT, being sure they could prevent Houston from kicking a field goal in the last 30 seconds, and then winning in overtime. (I think I would too.)

The analytics: PFF analysis says the Jacksonville offense had a 40 percent chance to convert the two-point conversion, with the Texans having a 9 percent chance of kicking a field goal in the closing seconds if Jacksonville either tied the game or went ahead with 30 seconds to play. Here’s where the analytics get tricky. PFF numbers say the Jaguars would have had a 35 percent chance to win the game in overtime, with Houston having a 60 percent chance. There was a 5 percent chance that the game would end in a tie. So if the Jags had a 40 percent chance to convert, and a 35 percent chance to win in overtime, it was probably—narrowly—the right call to go for two. What may not have been the right call was an unimaginative run up the gut.

The result: Leonard Fournette, 228 pounds, took a handoff from Gardner Minshew and tried to make the two yards necessary by bursting behind center. Fournette was stopped about a half-yard short. Jacksonville fell to 0-2 heading into a must-win short-week Thursday-nighter against Tennessee at home.

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