The Least Exciting Play in Football

By Blaidd Drwg

The extra point try is probably the most useless scoring play in professional football. Heck, as a stat, it ranks up there with the save in baseball as the least useful measure of a player’s ability. Kickers have gotten so good at it that there were exactly 5 misses in 1267 attempts last year (seriously, those are the numbers). That translates into a 99.61% success rate. Nobody watches the PAT thinking, “I think we are gonna block this one.” Heck, most teams don’t even put in an effort to block it, which is why you have a whopping 5 unsuccessful attempts last season. How much better have kickers gotten on the PAT? In 1993, the success rate was 96.8%. In 1983 it was 95.2%. In 1973, it was 96.8%. In 1963, it was 95%. You get the idea. It has never exactly been a tough kick, but at least historically there was about a 5% chance of missing it; not so much anymore.

The NFL is toying with the idea of changing how the PAT works. The latest proposal is to move the attempt from the 2 yard line back to the 25, which would make it essentially a 42-43 yard FG attempt. I looked at the success rate for FGs over 40 yards last season and that was only about 83%, so moving the kick back 20 yards will make a difference and probably make the play more exciting.

Kickers however, aren’t so convinced. From espn.com:

Adam Vinatieri: “I don’t understand the logic: Will it make the game safer for people by moving the extra point back to a 43-yarder?” Vinatieri said. “If anything, players are going to rush harder because they’re thinking, ‘That far of a field goal-type try, we have to go after blocking it more.’

Justin Tucker: “People are trying to phase kickers out of the game. That’s as blunt as I can be about it,”

Jay Feely: “You don’t penalize a baseball closer for being great, you celebrate that,” Feely, 37, told USA Today. “You should do the same thing with kickers. If you’re going to change the extra point rule, I’d rather see you change it and still have it as part of the game than eliminate it.”

I don’t see this as tying to phase kickers out of the game, it is more like the NBA changing the 3 point line and lane rules.  I personally would love to see them just eliminate the PAT kick and only allow a conversion try if a team wants to go for 2. It would probably chop several minutes off the unbearably long snooze fest that I most NFL games. It might make me more likely to pay a bit more attention to the game if they weren’t mostly just guys standing around doing nothing for long stretches between plays.

2 comments to The Least Exciting Play in Football

  • I see it as an attempt to introduce a bit more randomness in the scores. (I wonder if there is a rise in 2-point conversion attempts concomitant with the increase in accuracy of the 1-point kick.) I can’t see that anyone “has it out” for kickers, per se, but if as the stats suggest it’s just pro forma, then let’s shake it up a bit so it’s just not so bloody easy. For them, that is…not for me.

  • Blaidd Drwg

    Kickers don’t get paid because they convert all of their extra points – they get paid because of FG accuracy. Kickers have been released for missing non-critical extra points. I would think that if anything, kickers would love the idea of either eliminating the kick or moving it back since it would put more value on accuracy on longer kicks, which is where they make their money.

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