NFL Pushes Extra Point Attempts to the 15-Yard Line

  •   May 21, 2015

By Damon Bair, May 21, 2015

PENSACOLA, Fla. – The National Football League owners agreed on Tuesday, by a consensus vote of 30-2, to move point after touchdown (PAT) attempts from the two-yard line to the 15-yard line. This new rule makes extra points a 33-yard field goal try, while the two-point conversion attempts will remain on the two-yard line. This new rule has been proposed as a one-year trial run, but is intended to become permanent. The majority of owners came to the same agreement to increase the amount of two-point conversion attempts, and to require more precise execution. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated, “the extra point is almost automatic, I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd (attempts). So it’s a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play.” Four of those five missed extra point attempts were blocked, none of which were relevant to the outcome of the game.

Since 2000, NFL kickers have averaged 98% made extra points, over 99% since 2010. Over the last five years, 93% of field goals were made from 33-yards. When you consider the new extra point spot as a four to five percent difference on rate of completion, it does not seem like that big of a deal. It is a minor change, a 13-yard change that may not affect the game at all. On the flip-side, the room for error diminishes greatly, where a penalty(s) on the offensive side can turn a 33-yard extra point in to a 43+ yard extra point or weather could impact the kicks. Penalties and weather could directly result in a coach going for the two-point conversion over the 33-yard field goal. Two-point conversions were only attempted 5% of time in 2015, at a success rate of 48%. The new distance also gives defenses the chance to run back missed attempts for two-points.

Although the new NFL PAT rules seem minor in the grand scheme of things, they will have an effect on the game. Defensive special teams will now be more engaged in extra point attempts, and offensive players will have to execute at a higher level. Coaches will also have to adapt and the option of choosing to “go for two” becomes easier. The stats (nearly 99%) prove that the extra point was nearly pointless from the two-yard line, so the slight bump to the 15-yard line is a step in the right direction. The outcome that this new rule will have on the game is yet unknown, but it should eliminate the fake PAT two-point conversion for sure.