NFL changes PAT rule for 2015

ByEric D. Williams ESPN logo
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO -- As expected, NFL owners on Tuesday voted 30-2 to approve a change in the rule governing extra points after touchdowns.

The owners considered three proposals but ultimately approved a rule change endorsed by the competition committee. The new rule pushes the kick back to the 15-yard line and leaves the two-point conversion at the 2-yard line.

It also makes the play "live," meaning the defense could return a blocked kick or a turnover on a two-point play for two points.

The New England Patriots proposed snapping the ball from the 15 for a one-point kick or placing the ball at the 2-yard line for a two-point try. According to the Patriots' proposal, a team's choice was not final and was subject to change following a timeout or penalty.

The Philadelphia Eagles proposed snapping from the 15 for the kick but moving the ball to the 1 for a two-point conversion. The Eagles also wanted the defense to be able to score points if it returned a turnover on the two-point conversion to the other end zone.

Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith pointed to the high rate of success of extra points as a reason for the change.

Washington and Oakland were the only teams to vote no. The rule change will be reviewed after one year.

NFL place-kickers have converted at least 98 percent of their extra points since 2000. That figure has hovered above 99 percent since 2010, providing little incentive to go for two-point plays. Coaches attempted them after just 4.9 percent of touchdowns last season; they were converted at a rate of 47.5 percent.

There were 41 field goal attempts last season from 33 yards. Only two were missed. The conversion rate for 33-yard field goals over the past five seasons is 92.8 percent (154-of-166). Extra-point kicks are currently from the 2-yard line.

Although it has been proposed as a one-year rule to see how it plays out in 2015, Smith says the intent from the competition committee is that rule change stays a part of the game for the long haul.

"We tried to add some skill to the play, which is the reason why we moved it back to the 15," Smith said. "And then the other element is how do we create a more exciting play? And so to give the defense an opportunity to score, it adds an element there, as well as obviously incentivizing teams to go for two.

"So our hope is what we've done is we've added skill to the play, and then we will also see some increase in the attempts to go for two. We just felt like it was a play that was almost a ceremonial play, the way it has languished here recently."

And Troy Vincent, the league's vice president of football operations, noted that placekickers can handle such an alteration.

"The feedback that we got when we adjusted the field goal at the Pro Bowl didn't go over too well," Vincent said. "But they understand. The kicker is a skill position now. They are extremely accurate. We are not trying to remove the foot out of the game."

NFL kickers are not necessarily on board with the change.

"What did the NFL really accomplish?" said kicker Jay Feely, a 14-year NFL veteran, via Twitter. "It's still nearly automatic (90%vs 99%) but greater risk of injury to Oline."

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