Carolina Panthers

Why Panthers coach Ron Rivera went for 2 when down by 8 to the Packers in the snow

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Maybe Panthers coach Ron Rivera will indeed ditch his gambling nickname in favor of “Analytics Ron.” After all, that’s why he made the decision early in the fourth quarter to try and cut Carolina’s deficit to 6 points rather than 7 in Sunday’s loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field.

After a three-yard touchdown run by Chrisian McCaffrey with 11:58 remaining made the score 24-16 in favor of Green Bay, Rivera left his offense on the field. The ensuing failed two-point try (incomplete pass by Kyle Allen) left plenty of armchair QBs scratching their heads.

Why not kick it?

For Rivera, this was the obvious move.

“That was purely analytics, 100 percent. The thing is, if you get it there and you score at the end, then you’re kicking to win the game,” Rivera said. “If you don’t get it there, you get an opportunity to go for two again, which we felt pretty good about the play we had called the first time and we felt good about having the second one. It most certainly was just following the analytics of it.”

Whether it was the right call, we’ll never know. Carolina didn’t score again to get another try at tying the game up with a second attempted two-point conversion; 24-16 remained the final score. But if you factor in the blizzard-like conditions that had hit by game’s end, kicking an extra point to try the game would be far from automatic.

Perhaps it was the smarter move; it would have put less pressure on rookie kicker Joey Slye to come through in the fourth quarter, where he has struggled all year.