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Romeo Crennel on failed 2-point try vs. Titans: Texans wanted to 'put it out of reach for them'

Texans interim coach Romeo Crennel eschewed a field goal that would have put his team up four points in favor of a fourth-down play that resulted in a Brandin Cooks touchdown catch pushing Houston up seven points over the Tennessee Titans with 1:50 to play. Crennel’s next decision didn’t work out as well.

The interim coach called for a 2-point attempt in an effort to stretch the lead to nine instead of kicking the extra point and making it an eight-point game. On the 2-point try, Deshaun Watson bought time and had a wide-open Randall Cobb for a conversion that would have all but clinched the win. Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, however, got a paw on the ball to deflect the pigskin to the ground.

From there, the Titans marched down the field, kicked an extra point to tie, sent the game to overtime and won on a Derrick Henry TD on the first possession of OT.

“I wanted to go ahead and get the two points,” Crennel said defending his decision, via Sarah Barshop of ESPN. “It felt like that would kind of put it out of reach for them, and if we would have gotten it, we would have been in much better shape. As it turned out, we didn’t get it, and then with the touchdown and the extra point they tied it up, and we were in overtime.”

It’s possible that the Titans would have converted their own 2-point try later to send the game to overtime had Crennel kicked the extra point. In that alternate reality, Crennel is probably being asked why he didn’t consider going for two.

Star defensive tackle J.J. Watt dismissed the question of whether Crennel’s decision reflected poorly on the defense’s ability to get a stop.

“That’s above my pay grade,” Watt said. “I don’t know what you’re supposed to do there. I don’t know.”

Houston safety Justin Reid, however, liked the decision to play for the win.

“I don’t feel bad about it at all,” Reid said. “We wanted to win the game. And I support that aggressiveness. It worked out for us last week. And had we converted on the 2-point conversion, this would be a totally different conversation. So it is what it is.”

Like minds can differ whether Crennel made the right call. ESPN’s win probability calculator suggested Houston had a 98.2 percent chance to win if they kicked the PAT and a 98.1 percent chance if they went for two. Those figures speak to the overwhelming advantage Houston blew by letting Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry march for the score, regardless of Crennel’s choice.

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Why Romeo Crennel, Ron Rivera made the correct 2-point calls, even though they didn’t work

Romeo Crennel and Ron Rivera both called for two-point conversions in key spots during Week 6. Neither the Texans nor Washington Football Team could convert.

Despite the unsucessful tries and the losses that ensued for each — Giants 20-19 over WFT; Titans 42-36 over Houston — both Crennel and “Riverboat Ron” made the correct choice to attempt the two-point conversions. Both attempts would have won football games, which had lower chancesof being true if extra points had been kicked.

Here’s why Crennel and Rivera made their risky calls on Sunday.

Why did Romeo Crennel and the Texans go for two points?

With 1:50 remaining in Sunday’s game against the Titans, Deshaun Watson threw a 1-yard touchdown to Brandin Cooks. It put Houston up, 36-29, already a seven-point lead. An extra point would have forced the Titans to drive down the field, score a touchdown and convert a two-point conversion. 

But in this case, a two-point conversion would put the Texans up nine points, a margin that could not be closed on a single possession for Tennessee with less than two minutes to play. If it worked, Houston would’ve locked in a win against a division rival on the road.

“I wanted to go ahead and get the two points,” Crennel told media postgame. “It would have put the game out of reach for them.”

Houston put the ball in Watson’s hands to make a play, and after moving around, he had Randall Cobb wide open in the center of the end zone. Only an extended hand at the line of scrimmage stopped the Texans from going up nine.

Former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon, the CBS color commentator for the game, trashed the decision on the broadcast. 

“Force the other team to not only have to score a TD but also convert a two-point play just to play for the tie,” Gannon said. “All these analytics and stuff. Here is what I got when to go up by 7 you kick the extra point and make it an eight-point game.”

But what the Titans did next basically proved Gannon wrong and Crennel right. They drove down the field, and Ryan Tannehill threw a touchdown to A.J. Brown to get within a point. A Stephen Gostkowski extra point tied the game. Then Tennessee won the overtime coin toss, and Derrick Henry capped the drive with a rushing touchdown.

Houston went up seven points with 1:50 left, never saw the ball again, and lost. In part due to NFL overtime rules, that was always a possibility if they had gone up eight points, too. The only way the Texans would’ve basically guaranteed a win was with a successful two-point conversion.

Why did Ron Rivera and Washington go for two points?

Washington completed a 75-yard drive with 36 seconds left in regulation Sunday. It began with a 20-13 deficit, but Kyle Allen threw a 22-yard touchdown to Cam Sims to bring the WFT within one. On the road, Washington had the option of kicking an extra point to tie the game or trying the two-point conversion to likely win it.

Rivera is known for his strategic agressiveness, which earned him the nickname “Riverboat Ron” while he was head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Naturally, Rivera called for the two-point conversion. 

“The only way you learn to win is to play to win,” Rivera said when asked about the decision postgame.

On the try, Allen scrambled to his left and appeared to have a rushing path to the end zone before pulling back, being hit and throwing an incompletion. A failed onside kick attempt followed, and Washington handed the Giants their first win of the season. 

New York radio host Mike Francesca questioned Rivera’s move on Twitter.

That’ll be the popular counter to Rivera’s decision to go for two. But the Washington Football Team had also struggled to put drives together Sunday with Allen leading the way, and on the road with no guarantee of touching the ball in overtime, Rivera chose to run a play that, if successful, would surely result in a victory. Just because the result was wrong doesn’t mean the process was.

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