The NFL debuted a new rule regarding the PAT, point after touchdown, field goal attempt this season, moving it back to the 15-yard line as opposed to the 2-yard line.
This rule change has been considered for a while, being that the extra point was seen essentially as a free point. Moving it back to the 15-yard line now makes it a bit more of a challenge for kickers who have enjoyed a chip shot for an extra point before this change.
Part of the change also allows the defense to return an interception or blocked kick for a score, in which they would be awarded two points, where before the ball would be ruled dead.
The rule was voted upon by owners and passed with 30 out of 32 owners voting in favor of the change. Other proposals for the rule change were made, including one by the Philadelphia Eagles, which suggested making the two-point try at the 1-yard line, and another suggested by the New England Patriots, which was very similar to the newly adopted rule but did not allow the defense to be able to score.
Increasing the distance was not the only change proposed for PATs. This past preseason, the goal posts were narrowed, which made not only PATs more difficult, but field goals in general. Denver Broncos kicker Connor Barth thought that’s exactly what was needed.
The change poses a cause for controversy; with the new rule in effect, a 20-yard field goal is now worth more than a 33-yard kick in certain situations.
This fuels the idea that the league was not in fact trying to make it harder on kickers in general, but trying to take out any parts of the game that might seem pointless or monotonous. In effect, more spectators might be intrigued to watch, given that coaches might be more inclined to go for the two-point conversion, which previously was typically only used when the team absolutely needed it.
Last season, there were only two missed PATs that were not blocked. This season, there have already been 10 misses. The Pittsburgh Steelers have gone for the two-point conversion four times in the first three weeks of the season, while the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals had the most two-point attempts all of last season with five.
These stats show that the new rules have definitely affected how teams approach and succeed with their PATs.