With 15 seconds left on Sunday, the Buccaneers scored a touchdown to take a 26-24 lead over the Jets. Then Bucs coach Bruce Arians did something surprising: He kept the offense on the field to go for two.
Buccaneers running back Le'Veon Bell took a handoff up the middle and scored the two-point conversion to give the Bucs a 28-24 lead. Many commentators thought Arians’ reasoning was that he wanted to go up by four so that the Jets couldn’t send the game into overtime with a field goal, but Arians said his actual reasoning was not wanting to put the Jets in a position where they could block the kick, return it for two points, and tie the game.
Arians said he called for a run up the middle, and not a pass, because he didn’t want the Jets to intercept a pass and run it back for two.
“The only way they could score would be block the kick. We were not gonna throw it, we were gonna run the ball, and obviously we got it. But just take away their only scoring opportunity,” Arians said.
It was a smart call from Arians, and one that other coaches should emulate. Kicking the extra point is sometimes referred to as “taking the automatic point,” but the reality is there’s nothing automatic about an extra point. Something could go wrong, and Arians gave his team the best chance to win.