Every year since the league got started back in the 1960s, the extra point (PAT) in the NFL was automatic. When a team scored a touchdown, most fans are guilty of not even paying attention to the extra point. It was a rapidly fading practice in the game. The extra point was too easy. Kicking an extra point from the two-yard line was seemingly laughable to kickers around the league. The new rule implemented by Commissioner Roger Goodell prior to the 2015-2016 season moved the extra point attempt back 13 yards from its original place, making the extra point a 33-yard attempt rather than a 19-yard attempt. The new extra point rule has changed the scoring strategy of each team, and made the game more interesting to watch.
Goodell’s new rule made games much more engaging, as two-point conversion attempts increased from 58 in 2014 to 94 in 2015.
“From a competitive standpoint, this season, more games were decided by one score than ever in our history,” Goodell told Pro Football Talk.
In the 2014 regular season, 26 out of 32 teams in the league did not miss an extra point the entire season. The teams who didn’t miss an extra point the whole regular season significantly decreased after this past season. A mere five teams in the 2015 season did not miss an extra point during the regular season. The rest of the league missed at least one PAT, with the Jacksonville Jaguars missing the most, going 32-39 on the season. The number of misses in the 2015 season compared to the 2014 season is staggering. In the 2014 season, there were a total of eight missed extra points. In the 2015 season, there were 71 missed extra points. Those 71 misses were the most missed extra points since 1977. The overall percentage of converted PATs in 2014 was at 99.3 percent. That percentage decreased this season, with kickers converting on 94.2 percent of their attempts.
The rule change posed a new challenge for the kickers, putting them under more pressure to score one point than ever before. The new rule impacted the Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots playoff game.
Stephen Gostkowski, the Patriots placekicker, had made a NFL record 523-straight PATs, including a 2015 regular season where he hit all of his extra point attempts. He was also just one of five kickers to be perfect on PATs during the regular season. Gostkowski missed an extra point during the AFC Championship Game against the Broncos, which made a huge difference in the game. Gostkowski missing his extra point was ironic, because the Patriots pushed for the rule change in the first place. The missed PAT changed the outcome of the game because the contest came down to the Patriots having to go for two points to tie after scoring a late fourth quarter touchdown. If Gostkowski had hit his PAT earlier in the game, the Patriots could have kicked an extra point to tie, or even gone on to win the contest with a successful two-point conversion. History could have been easily rewritten if Gostkowski had hit his earlier PAT attempt.
Now that the PAT has become more challenging to kickers across the league, a whole new type of strategy is now in play for teams throughout the league. With the number of two-point conversion attempts nearly doubled this past season, teams around the league are rethinking their post-touchdown strategy. This new rule change made a huge difference in the game, and will continue to keep the game more engaging for fans and coaches in future seasons.