On September 4, 1994, Cleveland Browns place holder Tom Tupa pulled off a fake field goal against the Cincinnati Bengals to score the first 2-point conversion in National Football League history.
In Cleveland and Cincinnati’s opening game of the 1994 NFL season, Browns placeholder and punter Tom Tupa received the snap following a touchdown pass between quarterback Vinny Testaverde and Leroy Hoard.
Unlike your average extra point attempt, however, Tupa didn’t just place the ball down for the kicker to boot through the uprights. Instead, he took the ball, stood up, and darted to his left behind 6-foot-7-inch, 325-pound offensive tackle Orlando Brown. Breaking through the Bengal defense, Tupa scored the first 2-point conversion in NFL history.
The 2-pointer gave the Browns an 11-0 first-quarter lead over the hosting Bengals—and that was only the beginning of their special teams effort. Following Cincinnati’s first touchdown in the second quarter, Randy Baldwin returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards. Later in the same quarter, Eric Metcalf returned a punt 92 yards to put the Browns up 25-7. The game finished 28-20 in favor of Cleveland.
According to the New York Daily News, Browns’ special teams coach Scott O’Brien found that Cincinnati lined up weak on the left side for extra points. Thanks to this information, Cleveland plugged the fake field goal into the game plan.
Interestingly, the Browns head coach at the time was none other than Bill Belichick. Belichick, of course, has since gone on to great success, winning six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots. He is also known for his sometimes unorthodox coaching decisions which perhaps made him an excellent candidate to lead the team that scored the first ever 2-point conversion.
What allowed Belichick to even try for two points was the NFL’s decision to adopt the 2-pointer rule. Prior to 1994, NFL teams could only kick a field goal after scoring a touchdown, which merits one point. However, in an effort to encourage more offense output, the league’s owners voted in March 1994 to legalize 2-point conversions for the following season. The 2-point play had been around college ball since 1958 and the American Football League (which merged with the NFL in 1969) used the rule for the duration of its 10-season life.
The right place at the right time. The guys up front did a nice job clearing that side out, so all I had to do was stumble into the end zone.
The first player in NFL history to score a 2-point conversion
Following their win over the Bengals, the Browns finished the 1994 season at 11-5, enough to snag a wild card berth into the playoffs. In the postseason, they beat New England before falling to heated rivals Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round. Cincinnati completed the year 3-13.
Tupa, meanwhile, scored two more 2-point conversions during the 1994 season. His 2-point proficiency earned him the nickname “Two Point Tupa”. The punter, who had previously played quarterback for the Phoenix Cardinals in 1989 and 1991, would eventually retire in 2004.
We felt like we had a good play.
Cleveland’s coach on the successful 2-point conversion attempt
The official Cleveland Browns YouTube page has uploaded video of Tupa’s 2-point conversions from 1994:
That’s a nice record to have because it’s something that won’t ever be broken.
On being the first player in NFL history to score a 2-point conversion
- Following a first-quarter touchdown in Cleveland’s opening game of the 1994 season against Cincinnati, Tom Tupa took the snap on a fake field goal and ran into the end zone for the first 2-point conversion in NFL history.
- Tupa went on to score two more 2-point conversions in the 1994 season which gave him the moniker “Two Point Tupa”.
- Cleveland, which beat Cincinnati 28-20, was coached at the time by future six-time Super Bowl winner Bill Belicheck.
- Arizona Republic, September 18, 1994 via Newspapsers.com
- New York Daily News, September 5, 1994 via Newspapers.com
- St. Cloud Times, September 8, 1994 via Newspapers.com