NFL kickers have missed 14 extra point kick tries through the first three weeks of the 2015 season. That's six more than they missed in all 17 weeks of the 2014 regular season.
This offseason, the league adopted a Competition Committee proposal to move the spot from where the ball is snapped on PAT kick tries back to the 15-yard line, making what was a 17-yard kick a more challenging 33-yard kick.
“The decision didn’t happen overnight,” said Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino. “The Committee has been looking at this for several seasons.”
As kickers have become more accurate, the extra point has become almost automatic. In 2014, NFL kickers converted 99.3 percent of extra point kicks tries.
The Committee reviewed data and discussed various ways to make the play less automatic and more exciting. Longer kicks were tested during the Hall of Fame Game and the first two weeks of the 2014 preseason.
The proposal the Committee presented to the owners this offseason not only moved the kick back, but also kept the two-point tries at the two-yard line and allowed defenses to return missed tries. The rule change passed by a 30-2 margin and was implemented before the 2015 season.
While the extra distance has made the play less routine, through the first three weeks, kickers are still connecting on 94.2 percent of their attempts.
“The change has had the desired effect,” said Blandino. “The play is not automatic anymore.”
The longer extra point kick try may tempt coaches into going for two more often. Through the first three weeks of 2015, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has attempted four two-point tries, converting three.
Teams have gone for two 24 times so far in the 2015 season, converting on half of those tries. Through the first three weeks of 2014, teams had only attempted 14 two-point tries and converted on only five of them (35.7 percent).
“We’ll see if that number goes up as we get further into the season and the weather gets cold,” Blandino said.