Time To Encourage 2-Pointers Within NFL Rules

It has been part of football since the sport morphed out of the evolutionary swamp of rugby. There has always been an extra-point attempt after a touchdown. Only after a winning touchdown on the last play of the game keeps the point-after-touchdown try off the field.

As a historic part of the sport the PAT kick survived over one hundred years without major change. Along the way the two-point play was introduced into football, first by colleges, then the AFL and finally by the NFL before the 1994 season.

However, the one-point kick is now considered boring because it’s a play generally automatic in success. Thus, the NFL owners voted this week to move the snap spot for the PAT kick from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line. That turns the kick into the equivalent of a 32/33-yard field goal. Supposedly, this will make the PAT kick more relevant.

If anything, the league has not gone far enough. First, digest these numbers for the 2014 season:

  • PAT kicks – 1,222 of 1,230, for 99.4 percent.
  • FGs from 32 and 33 yards – 58 of 60, for 96.7 percent.

Is a three percent difference in success anything that will make the PAT kick more exciting?           

Doubtful. Possibly the only part of the change that might prove exciting is the ability of the defense to now score on a point-after try, whether it comes from an interception on a two-point attempt or a blocked one-point kick. Both can now be returned for touchdowns.

But if the league’s competition committee, owners and headquarters personnel wanted to spice up the extra point, they should have spent more time trying to conceive ways for teams to attempt more two-point tries. Last season, NFL teams attempted 59 plays looking for two points after a touchdown. They were successful 28 times for a success percentage of 47.5 percent.

The NFL needs to have more coaches opting to go for two points. Moving the snap from the 2-yard line to the 1-yard line might help. But there need to be other incentives to convince coaches to take the chance in situations other than the obvious. Coaches do not like the 2-point conversion at any point but in desperation to catchup with an opponent. They view it as just another decision that can get them skewered by fans, media, but more importantly the owner.

Last year, eight of the league’s 32 teams did not attempt a two-point conversion play. There were 17 teams that did not have a successful score in that situation, including the Chiefs. The most effective two-point offenses were Chicago (5-for-5) and Minnesota and Pittsburgh (both 4-for-4).

The Chiefs have not had a missed PAT kick since October 22, 2006 when Lawrence Tynes could not convert in a game against San Diego. Over the last 30 seasons (1985-14), Chiefs kickers have made 98.9 percent of their PAT kicks (1,091 of 1,103.)

The last time they scored on a two-point try was November 8, 2009 when running back Jamaal Charles caught a short pass from quarterback Matt Cassel in a game at Jacksonville. They missed on their last six attempts at two points. The last time the Chiefs scored two points on a running play was back in 2002 when quarterback Trent Green ran it in.

Since the NFL adopted the two-point possibility before the 1994 season, the Chiefs are 15 of 50 attempts, or a success rate of 30 percent. In five seasons with the rule, Marty Schottenheimer called for 15 attempts at two points and the Chiefs were successful on five or 33 percent. Dick Vermeil’s Chiefs over five seasons converted on six of 15 attempts, 40 percent.

During his time in Philadelphia, Andy Reid called for a two-point try 22 times over 14 seasons. The Eagles scored on 12 of those attempts, a success rate of 54.6 percent.

It was Vermeil that devised the chart that many coaches still use to determine if it’s time to go for two points. He created it when he was the offensive coordinator at UCLA in the early 1970s. It goes like this:

  • Leading after a touchdown scored a coach should consider a two-point conversion if the margin is 1, 4, 5, 12, 15 or 19 points.
  • Trailing after a touchdown scored, a coach should go for two if behind by 1, 2, 5, 9, 11, 12, 16 or 19 points.

If the NFL wants to put a spark in the extra point, they need to encourage going for two rather than moving back the spot for a PAT kick. There needs to be a reward for coaches willing to take the chance, even when it’s not the obvious call.

8 Responses to “Time To Encourage 2-Pointers Within NFL Rules”

  • May 20, 2015  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Shoot, why not move the two point conversion back to the three yard line and make it worth three points. How tempting would that be?

    But maybe it would start to look like a pinball scoring game. Like Arena Football which is unwatchable. Only slightly worse than an Indoor Soccer game, invented by Americans to speed up Soccer.

    And God gave Man, after he couldn’t kill them off with the Great Flood, Soccer. To bore them to death.

  • May 20, 2015  - Kenny says:

    Personal fouls after a touchdown will now have some meaning.

  • May 21, 2015  - el cid says:

    The game is for entertainment, the NFL will re-shape itself to draw in fans, younger fans.

    When you get to old to adjust, do not worry, there will be younger folks to take your place.

  • May 21, 2015  - KC The Truth says:

    So the NFL has stepped into total absurdity. First Deflategate, now the PAT. They hit the defensive backs with unreal rules, but let the receivers get away with just about anything. And heaven forbid, you can’t hit them. The QB’s might as well wear pink tutu’s. Go ahead keep messing with it and the fans will quit watching. Hell, baseball is becoming the contact sport. I miss Pete Rozell.

  • May 21, 2015  - txchief says:

    I keep hoping soccer will go away if I ignore it for long enough.

    Maybe they’re trying to make NFL football more appealing for the international fans who seem to enjoy the kicking plays more than anything else.

  • May 21, 2015  - el cid says:

    What a bunch of old foggies. Did you know the forward pass is not a fad, yep, here to stay.

    Got to be hip, full of jive, 23 skidoo and the rest of it.

  • May 21, 2015  - Ernie Barney says:

    As Bob’s stats point out this move won’t make much of a difference statistically; the novelty for the fans will wear off quickly. But no doubt there will be one or two games the new rule impacts the outcome. Hopefully it won’t impact our mini me kicker.

  • May 21, 2015  - Tenand6 says:

    Idea for the Chiefs on short yardage should they go for 2: Use Chris Conley in the backfield to dive over the pile. The guy has ridiculous springs in his legs. Going over the pile is underrated, IMHO.

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