After a football team scores a touchdown, they have the opportunity to add some extra points to the score by either getting a one-point conversion or a two-point conversion. Although one-point conversions are attempted much more often, a two-point conversion, successful or unsuccessful, can completely change the look of a game.
To have two points added to the score after the touchdown a team must enter the end-zone with the ball again starting from the 15-yard line, basically scoring another touchdown, only this time worth two points. If the attempt is successful, two points will be added to the score, and the team will have earned a total of eight points on that drive. However, very often teams are unable to enter the endzone, and will not earn the extra two points. In that case, the team will only score 6 points on that drive.
The extra point attempt is the most popular in football. However, teams should choose to attempt the two point conversion in a situation where having two extra points instead of just one keeps the team with chances of winning the game, as it is the case in the example below:
Imagine the score is the following at the 5 minute mark on the fourth quarter
If the away team scores a touchdown, the score becomes:
If the away team makes the extra kick, the score becomes:
If the away team makes the two point conversion, the score becomes:
It is advantageous for the away team to try the two point conversion in this case because there is not much time left in the game, and by adding two extra points after the touchdown the away team will only be down by three points, turning the game into a one possession game, leaving the away team with chances to score a field goal and send it to overtime. In situations like this teams can run trick plays in which they pretend to attempt an extra point conversion and execute a play for the two point conversion, confusing the defense.
Teams are often forced to try a two point conversion late in the game to keep their victory hopes alive. However, is it ever beneficial to try a two point conversion earlier in the game? The answer depends on how much confidence a coach has in his offense.
A two point conversion nets two points, whereas kicking an extra point only gains a team one point. Therefore, assuming a team can reliably kick extra points, the coach has to be confident that his offense can successfully execute a two point conversion more than 50% of the time to decide to go for two regularly.