Have Longer PATs Become More Competitive?

What impact has the new rule had through the first seven weeks of the season?

INDIANAPOLIS --- The NFL moved point after touchdowns back to the 15-yard-line this season from the 2-yard-line, creating longer 33-yard extra points in hopes of making the most routine play in the NFL more competitive.

What are the results through week 7?

94.65% of PATs have been good this season. There have been 27 misses out of 505 attempts. Last season, 99.35% of PATs were good, with only 8 misses out of 1230 attempts.

Even more indicative of the play moving further away from automatic, only six teams last season missed an extra point, with no team missing more than two PATs. Already in 2015, 17 of 32 teams have missed at least one extra point, with two teams missing three (Houston and Jacksonville).

The Steelers have attracted attention in going for two earlier in games from two yards out more often this season, instead of kicking the 33-yard PAT. Pittsburgh is 3-of-5 on those tries, already one more two point conversion attempt than the Steelers tried all of last season. Only one NFL team attempted five two point conversions in 2014, and seven teams are already more than halfway to that mark in 2015.

The Saints also attempted to go for two (but failed) week 3 on the road against the Panthers at the beginning of the 3rd quarter to try to take an 8-point lead. It backfired, however. After missing that first two point conversion, the Saints scored another touchdown in the 4th quarter and failed on a second two point conversion. If New Orleans made both extra points, the Saints would have trailed by just 3 points instead of 5 on its final possession of the game on its own 45-yard-line with 10 seconds left.

Last week, the Saints missed a 3rd quarter PAT against the Colts but this time opted to kick another PAT on their next touchdown to go up 27-0, instead of trying a two point conversion to go up 28-0. That missed PAT could have loomed large if the Colts defense got one final stop on 3rd down before the two minute warning. It also could have created a chance to win instead of tie the game for Indianapolis, if not for the Colts just missing a recovery on an onsides kick late in the game.

So statistically, the PAT may still be good more than 94% of the time, but it is still already a more competitive play, regardless of whether the PAT is simply wide of the uprights or the head coach opts to go for a two point conversion. Through seven weeks, the new rule is certainly having the affect the league hope for when the rule was adopted in the offseason.

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