Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

What’s the Point?

Roger Goodell says the NFL is considering abolishing the extra point because it wants to ‘add excitement.’ Would this be a good move for the game? Peter King says yes. Robert Klemko says no. Let the debate commence

Earlier this week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would consider eliminating the extra point in favor of a revised scoring system. Peter King believes this is long overdue and advocates a change. Robert Klemko disagrees and thinks it’d be a knee-jerk decision to abolish the PAT. Their arguments are below.

GIVE THE PAT THE BOOT || BY PETER KING

I was wrong this week. I wrote the extra point is the biggest waste of time in American sport. Actually, the intentional walk is worse. But that’s it. That’s the only thing worse than the 45 seconds of clock between the touchdown and the TV timeout that was wasted five times per game in the 2013 NFL season on a play that has become the most automatic thing about football. That’s three and a half minutes in every game, wasted.

Why I think the PAT should be re-invented immediately:

1. Kickers have made it too automatic. In the past three years, kickers have missed five, six and seven extra points, respectively. That’s 18 misses out of 3,709 tries—a 99.5 percent accuracy rate. Out of every 200 extra points, one is missed.

2. I do love football tradition. I’m the guy, remember, who wrote a pro football history book back in the nineties and got ripped for having Don Hutson and Otto Graham 1-2 on the list of greatest players of all time. You can have a respect for tradition and still know when change is logical. And right now, change is overdue on the PAT.

3. Recall the last time an extra point was exciting, or even remotely interesting. I can’t.

When the current iteration of football scoring was last changed significantly, in 1912, the touchdown was valued at six points and the “try,” or point after touchdown, one. In those days, the kicker was a rank amateur compared to everyone else on the field, and the PAT was always in doubt at different levels of football. When the NFL was invented in 1920, this line of scoring was adopted: six for a touchdown, one for the extra point.

It’s good … again! Officials made this signal on extra points 1,178 times in 2013—out of 1,183 attempts. (Kirby Lee/Getty Images)

So the PAT has been alive in its its current form for 102 years. Are we sentenced to live with it forever? Can we not change a rule that clearly has outlived its usefulness?

Or, put another way: If you were inventing the sport of football today, and you were putting a scoring system into play, would you adopt a rule for scoring that was 99.5% efficient? Would you adopt a rule for a highly competitive game that was absolutely uncompetitive?

I raised this point about Stephen Gostkowski this week in The Season. Gostkowski has made 360 straight PATs, dating back to the final game of his rookie season, in 2006. He last missed four months before the Patriots traded for Randy Moss. Seven years ago. In that time, four-and-a-half hours of Patriots football has been played with Gostkowski attempting and making extra points (360 times 45 seconds per PAT try). What a waste.

So, what should the NFL do? I’m not in favor of what Roger Goodell suggested to Rich Eisen this week, that every touchdown be awarded seven points, and if you choose to go for two and make it, you finish with eight points—but if you miss, you only get six. That’s penalizing a team for trying a potentially exciting play, the two-point conversion. What I’d do:

1. Make every touchdown worth six points.

2. Give teams a choice on the conversion. The one-point conversion would be a kick. The two-point conversion would be from the 2-yard line, where it currently is, run as it currently is when teams choose to go for two after a touchdown.

3. But the PAT would be moved back. I am open to any number of suggestions here. My preference would be a true challenge. Say the average spot of a missed field goal in 2013 is from 44 yards out. In 2014, then, the spot for the extra point would be the 27-yard line, necessitating a 44-yard kick to convert the extra point. But I am flexible here. Anything with the ball spotted at the 25 or farther would be okay with me. I just want to make the kick non-automatic.

Sorry, King. You're Wrong

Completely disagree with Peter King's take on extra points? So does Robert Klemko, who argues it would be short-sighted to eliminate them. FULL STORY

I don’t want to fiddle with the tradition of the game. I love tradition. I wish there would be more mud bowls and Charger powder-blues and crew-cutted tight ends. I do not advocate change for change’s sake. But the extra point just doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s not going to ruin the game to change it, the same way changing the kickoff spot by five yards didn’t lessen the greatness of the game.

I’ve heard scores of suggestions, many of them smart and good, about the PAT on Twitter in the past day or so. It’s good to discuss the merits of the game you all love so much. All I ask, again, is this: If you were inventing a competitive sport like football all over again, would you include a play that is the most automatic in sports?

Now, head to Page 2 to hear Robert Klemko’s retort…

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143 comments
jburton
jburton

Touchdowns should be 2 points. Field goals should be 1 point. Safety should also be 1 point.

This way the anti-climatic extra points are removed and the games have a greater chance to be

tied and go into overtime...very exciting. Maybe we will have an overtime Super Bowl someday.

You never know.

barefootbrewer
barefootbrewer

Here's an idea. Instead of having to declare whether you are going to go for 2 points and have the ball on the 2 yard line or (as in preseason) or you have to say you are going to kick the extra point, thus the ball is placed further away. This requires a declaration as to what is going to happen - virtually eliminating any chance for a fake.


How about we move the ball to the 1 yard line and let teams do what they want with it. They could kick the PAT or go for 2 points. The ball being closer would likely encourage going for 2 more and also keep the viability of a fake PAT alive.

This would not help with the almost certainty of scoring the PAT, but I imagine you'd have a lot more teams going for 2 points....and that could be a lot of fun!

rrussel6
rrussel6

most agree PAT  is boring.  moving back adds little excitement or strategy.  Football is the BEST sport because it includes so many facets of athleticism, strategy and odd ways of scoring, winning and losing.  To add to this winning recipe, the PAT should be attempted from the place where the ball crossed the goal line, and the ability to score 1, 2, or 3 points should be awarded based on the width of the uprights. In this way, a TD scored in the middle of the field (more difficult) would be rewarded by the ability to kick from dead center making it easier to go for 2 points or even 3 points.  The NFL could easily cover the increased cost of automatic mobile uprights.  All of sudden the PAT becomes a very exciting play potentially worth 3 points.  Increased strategy is added to the game in that all of sudden, just keeping the offense out of the end zone is not enough, you must force them to the sidelines so that if they do score, they will have to attempt the PAT from an acute angle making a 2 or 3 point try difficult.

skanee00
skanee00

According to what I've heard, and I'm not sure if this is true or not, one reason for doing away with extra points is that it could help alleviate the head trauma issue.  If that is the case, then I propose trying the extra point in the same sort of manner they do in rugby.  Place the ball on the 20 yard line and just let the kicker kick it from there.  If kicking tees were disallowed and you needed a holder, that would make it more of a challenge.  That would be a 30 yard kick, still fairly easy for an NFL kicker, but not automatic.  The special teams players would just line up on the field before the extra point attempt, and then take kickoff position after the attempt.  This would eliminate time wasted shuttling players on and off the field for the kickoff.


The problem with eliminating the extra point is that you run the risk of losing the "foot" in football.  When Americans first started playing football in the 1860's, a touchdown counted for nothing and you only scored goals by kicking the point after touchdown.  The kicking game was, and was always meant to be, an important element of football.  If you can rationalize eliminating the PAT, you could probably also rationalize eliminating field goals and punting.  Without the kicking game, you could also change the shape of the ball.  The sport could be called "handball", and you could start playing it with something that looks like a jart.  This is a road we don't want to go down.



Bear
Bear

What they should do is eliminate the kick, but not the play. Extra points would be worth one point, but it have to be run or passed in. That would put drama back into the game and make the extra point something you don't change the channel during.

TJKroll
TJKroll

I love the idea of scooting the extra point back farther rather than eliminating the kick all together. I think a solid 30-35 yard kick could do it. I mean the one idea of making it an automatic 7 then if they go for 2 then they could loose a point is okay but then it takes the tradition out of the game. I know many of the kickers would make many of these extra points but I think then it doesn't make the kick automatic cause the kicker could pull or push the ball off to the left or right. I hope the NFL considers this idea rather than taking out it out totally.

Zimbear
Zimbear

Love your idea.  It will add a new level of interest to the extra point kick to move it back to the 20 or 25.  I would allow the "kicking team" to have to option of a fake, with a succesful "touchdown" worth two points.  Some offenses prefer to have more open field for the passing game anyway.  Of course, you have to allow the other team two points if they are able to intercept a pass or field the kick cleanly and then able to bring it back the other way for a score.  I would also move the 2 point conversion attempt back to the 5 so that it is challenging enough that the coach has a real decision to make.  Overall I agree.  Make the PAT more fun and challenging, don't just dump it.

PhillipAuxt
PhillipAuxt

What they should do is get rid of the Pro Bowl. It's useless and it takes the chance of hurting someone with an ankle injury.

GeoffFitz
GeoffFitz

"Until then, let’s be patient."  Lol.  Yeah.  The success rate since 1990 is only almost 99% .  Let's wait until it's AT LEAST 105%  (http://www.sportingcharts.com/articles/nfl/how-many-extra-point-kicks-are-missed-on-average-in-the-nfl.aspx)


Do you really think the success rate of going for two points is going to increase much?  I think over time it DECREASES, because defenses just keep getting better.


Of course, if they keep calling PI when a DB breathes in the wrong direction, the success rate might approach what we see with kicks.

Hussman
Hussman

If the extra point is made harder, or eliminated altogether, then it is more likely that more overtimes and more ties will occur.  For example, with extra points, the following scores (up to 20) are relatively rare because of the need for a safety. 2, 4, 5, you could argue 19 is very rare also.  Without an extra point, or more difficult ones that increase the likelihood of a 2-point attempt, then the rare numbers are 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 13, 17.  In other words, out of 20 possible scores, there are 4 unlikely scores in the course of a game (20%) with the extra point as an automatic, and 7 (35%) without it.  I haven't done frequencies for higher scoring games, but they would also be affected.


Taking a point away once earned seems wrong. The comment of a live ball if blocked does make it interesting although that would lead to more injuries.


Also, my guess is that coaches and players like the extra minute to plan adjustments and kickoffs after the score.  For those reasons, I don't see the benefit of a major game change to save 10 minutes a game.

Michael22
Michael22

More importantly, how often has a missed PAT been the difference in the game? A TD or FG is exciting because it is often the decisive score to resolve the game. Since the PAT is almost never missed, it doesnt provide excitement for the game outcome.


A quick review of memory suggests one time I can ever recall the missed PAT in an NFL game mattering: Lions vs Jets, the Lions go up early and on their 3rd TD, their place kicker is injured and Ndomakong Suh has to take the PAT and it is off the upright, no good. The Jets came back to tie it at 20-20, and then win in OT. 

tbdetermined
tbdetermined

95% success means that 5% miss. there is your excitement. Why must excitement always be on the offense? Why change the essence of the game and turn it into something you don't recognize?  

epeeist
epeeist

Even if it's 99.5% accurate, why not use the college rule, the ball is live if blocked, the defence has a chance (however small) to score 2 by running it back?


So the maximum swing on a PAT is 3 points (1-2). You could finesse this more, e.g. also move the distance of the kick, not allowing the defence to score on a conversion attempt to make conversions more attractive (smaller chance to gain 2 but guaranteed defence won't score), etc.

UrsaMajor
UrsaMajor

Make the kicker kick it backwards with his heel.

BarrSuul
BarrSuul

Peter King is an imbecile.

comments
comments

It has been at least fifteen minutes since the league's made sweeping rule changes. And I get it. Being paid to watch this stuff, King and Goodell can't just go to the bathroom, let the dog out, make a phone call, go the kitchen, stretch their legs, or ... oh ... change the channel :)

Imagine being stuck having to watch the ten minutes of commercials separating the touchdown, ( god forbid a review ) the extra point, the kickoff (which is mostly a joke now as well), and finally ... the next possession. Admittedly I do wander off some Sundays ... only to find it half-time upon my return to the couch. Study the impact before making another Kneejerk rule change please.    

minerl
minerl

I like Peter King's idea.  It's like moving the Kickoff back.  The extra point doesn't go away, but it makes it more interesting.  On the other hand eliminating it all together (ie Goodell's thought) is fine too.  The end result is the same.  7 points on 199 out of 200 touchdowns.  We just get 4 hours of our life back from watching a boring extra point.


And shortening an NFL game isn't the worst idea ever...


So, I'm good either way, but it is time for a change.  I don't want to watch something that has a 1 in 200 chance of failure.  Not worth doing anymore.  Especially on Madden, but that's another story.

ianlinross
ianlinross

Get rid of the K-ball. Make him kick a sloggy, wet cow patty.

Rick in Huahin!
Rick in Huahin!

make all plays actual plays, maybe a run is 1, pass is 2 points.

gsusdo00
gsusdo00

Make a 50+ yard field goal worth 5pts before messing with PATs. Think about that for a minute, if you want more excitement... That would definitely add some

Zatso
Zatso

Rugby League takes the kick from where the try was made.  It makes it very exciting!

Snow_Veil
Snow_Veil

Leave it as is.


I'd turn the argument around and rather than phrasing it as a touchdown being worth six with a near-guaranteed seven, just consider the touchdown to be worth seven, with a very small chance for the defense to shave a point off that number. That's basically what it is now, and that's perfectly fine. As others have pointed out, the "Touchdown + PAT > Two Field Goals" dichotomy is at the heart of the game's scoring system. I think removing the extra point or forcing two-point attempts would have a much further-reaching effect than King seems willing to admit. 


Essentially, it doesn't matter that there isn't much 'drama' in most PAT's - there isn't supposed to be. It's simply a cornerstone of the game's scoring system, with a very small chance of something happening that changes the way the game plays out.


Kneeling down to run the clock out is boring too, isn't it? Maybe we should make that into a penalty to make sure every single play is exciting!

CRLogic
CRLogic

Just move the kick back to the 25.  That would be a 42 yard field goal.  Problem solved.

RobbieG
RobbieG

Move spot back to the 8 yard line to make it a 25 yard kick.  Not a big a deal for the kick but if there is a lot of wind guys would miss it with a little more frequency.  But make a run/pass play worth 3 points.  One shot from the 8 yard line is no gimme.

JasonShaw1
JasonShaw1

While I agree the PAT is stupid, it's never actively bothered me.  If you want to make the game more interesting, I suggest removing the hash marks, or at least making them much, much wider. Plays to the outside of the field would carry the risk that the next play would be tough with players bunched up against the sideline and the defense able to gear up for a play back to the inside. Plus, it would insert some difficulty for teams at the end of the game that keep going out of bounds just to stop the clock. I think the ball shouldn't be moved between plays unless absolutely necessary.

Canuck
Canuck

I have an idea that will be of much greater benefit to professional football and football fans everywhere...

Eliminate this absurd MMQB pseudo-website and demote Peter King from "Editor-in-Chief" back to ordinary SI sportswriter.  There is no bigger ego or self-impressed, overexposed writer in sports today (except perhaps Mike Florio, admittedly a very close call).  Enough of this BS, Peter.  Your job is to REPORT on NFL football, not try to foment fundamental changes to the sport.  Honest to god, shake yourself!  Who do you think you are?  If you want to be the NFL Commissioner, apply for the opening the next time it becomes available; your potential employers will tell you very quickly how totally unqualified you are for the job.


hubbard0705
hubbard0705

3. Recall the last time an extra point was exciting, or even remotely interesting. I can’t.


On November 21, 2003 the Jacksonville Jaguars lead the New Orleans Saints 20-13 in the fourth quarter. With seven seconds left on the clock, the "River City Relay" began with a forward pass by the Saints which was caught and lateraled three times before they scored with no time left. In order to tie the game and give the Saints a fighting chance in overtime, kicker John Carney had to make his extra point. Carney missed, eliminating the Saints from playoff contention.


http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-videos/0ap2000000263575/Saints-vs-Jaguars-Multi-Lateral-TD-Missed-Field-Goal-12-21-03 

Ralph10
Ralph10

Instead of removing the PAT, why not try to improve the percentage of making the 2 point conversion.  Instead of placing the ball at the 2 yard line for a 2 point conversion, put it at the 1 yard line.  Maybe more teams would attempt the 2 pointer from the 1 yard line versus the 2 yard line.

jkaskan
jkaskan

Dave Dameshek has this right...make the kickers play a minimum of 5 non-special teams plays before the middle of the fourth quarter.  Get us back to old school football. Remember guys like George Blanda who threw the TD pass and then went and kicked the XP?  Enough of these 140 pound 5' 5" "specialists"  (Sea Bass excepted of course)  Do you think that in 1900 the founders thought someday kickers would make field goals from over 60 yards and XP's 99.5 percent of the time?  Or how about simply disallowing soccer style kicking?

Crapahoola
Crapahoola

Or how about the decision goes to the defense?  We'll let you have one automatically, or we'll make your offense go for three instead of the old two?

CoreyLivermore
CoreyLivermore

I think all TDs should be 6 points, and if you want to go for 2 you can.  But move the 2 point conversion back to the 5 yard line.  If you convert, you get the 2 points; if the defense is good enough to pick the ball off or recover a fumble and return it 95 yards to the opposite end zone, THEY get 2 points.


And seeing as we're talking about rule changes, make DPI 15 yards and not a spot foul.  Too much emphasis is placed on DPI in the end zone, which automatically moves the ball to the 1 yard line.  It's far to advantageous to the offense the way the rule currently sits.

TheHip1
TheHip1

Keep the PAT! Geez leave the game alone Goodell! If you have to make a change then add something like if the kickoff goes through the uprights you get a point. 

roberto.paisley
roberto.paisley

Here is a simple idea on the  PAT or two point try,  start the 40 second clock just like another down.

Another changes I would like to see - what is with allowing a team to kick the ball out of bounds when punting and then have the ref estimate where the ball should be place on the field of play. Make the punting team kick in bounds or it is a five yard penalty and a do over!.  If a punter can make the ball hit the ground and then go out of bounds, kudos for the punter but it is risky.

duckfan59
duckfan59

Just leave the damn game alone. We like it just fine the way it is.

DPHanson
DPHanson

One play from the 10-yard line.  If the offensive team reaches the 5-yard line, it's one point.  If they reach the endzone it's 2 points.  Anything else results in 0 points.

PhillipAuxt
PhillipAuxt

@GeoffFitz I've seen missed field goals, but not PAT's. They  should do away with the extra point and make them go for 2. It will be more exciting.

GeoffFitz
GeoffFitz

@T-Ray Not only would taking on the Rugby-mothod for "converting" a touchdown be more exciting...the player's association may like it because it's a few less plays for players to get injured. 


Take all the players off the field, allow a standard tee (or have a holder on the filed), and kick it like a post-fair-catch free kick.


I have always thought this was the way it should be done.  Kick it from where it's scored, and the "automatic" kick goes away.

Michael22
Michael22

@T-Ray That was pretty awesome, and crazy angles and swerve would certainly improve the PAT for me.

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@Snow_Veil King's not saying to get rid of the PAT, he's saying move the line of scrimmage for a PAT back to about the 25 yard line to make the attempt more difficult.  

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@Canuck I get your frustration but PK is not a reporter.  He's a columnist.  He's paid for his opinions first and reporting second.  

JasonShaw1
JasonShaw1

@hubbard0705 So you're saying it's been 10 years since it was exciting or even remotely interesting. That's a long time to wait.

FrankLee
FrankLee

Yes: leave the game alone, Goodell. Especially the number of playoff teams!

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@DPHanson So you would give a team points for NOT getting into the end zone?  

Snow_Veil
Snow_Veil

@PhillyPenn @Snow_Veil Yeah, I was aware of that but my wording was poor. What I was getting at was more along the lines of "removing the PAT (as essentially guaranteed)."


I think making it into something with a 60-70% conversion rate rather than 99.5% would add a layer of coaching complexity that's unnecessary to an already complex game. 

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@JasonShaw1 LOL, yeah.  That hardly makes a compelling case for keeping things the way there.

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@Snow_Veil @PhillyPenn Ok, that's cool.  But one of the reason's I like it is because it adds complexity.  Different strokes for different folks.  :)

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