With the Bills losing yesterday’s game by just 1 point, it’s pretty tempting to say that Buffalo should have gone for a 2 point conversion when the Bills scored either of their 3rd quarter touchdowns. Instead Buffalo kicked extra points to pull within one (instead of tying the Titans) and to go up by 6 instead of an even 7. I know, 7 is an odd number, but in football there is an aura around the number of 7 because it is traditionally thought of as one score. It’s the basic unit of scoring measurement (even though field goals, safeties and blown extra points all exist).
The fundamental flaw in going for a 2 point conversion at either point in the game comes around to a type of confirmation bias. It makes a presumption that the Bills would have converted either 2 point conversion, and greatly diminishes the real possibility that they would have missed. And why not-We already know Buffalo lost the football game, and so really it couldn’t have been much worse if they lost by two instead of one, right?
But that isn’t the scenario in game. In game, the Bills are taking the lead with a full quarter left against a team that hasn’t had much trouble moving the ball against the defense. With 15 minutes left for the Titans to play football the difference between 6 and 5 point leads (the difference between making an extra point and missing a 2 point conversion) is salient. Now, two field goals wins a game instead of tying it-a very real possibility with 15 minutes left for a Titans team that had moved the ball up and down field at will in the first half, especially with a kicker of Rob Bironas’ character on the team.
Strangely, the problem wasn’t that the Titans scored a touchdown as much as they scored a touchdown late. Had the Titans scored the touchdown earlier to go up by one point, and then Buffalo had more chances to respond-the strategy would have worked. As we saw, Buffalo was only down one point-had there been 8 minutes left instead of less than 2, the touchdown isn't all that detrimental to the outcome. Further, had Buffalo gotten another touchdown in this scenario then a "go for 2" strategy would have been called for. Time would be sufficiently run down that the Titans having two separate drives for two field goals isn't realistic, and you can imagine the Titans going for broke on Touchdowns. Here-the extra point covers you and the whole "if we miss, down 1 or down two won't matter" is real. That just isn't the case with 15 minutes left.
As to hanging the Coaching staff out to dry on not going for 2 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, there was simply too much time on the clock to make presumptions about whether the Titans would pass up field goals for touchdowns.
In my estimation there were tons of mistakes made by the Bills that cost them this game, not going for 2 wasn’t one of them.