The NFL has changed post-touchdown procedures in a dramatic way, giving teams the option to go for two from the 2-yard line or kick a 33-yard PAT with the 15-yard line serving as the line of scrimmage. How did that impact the first week of the season? Here are the numbers…
On Thursday, Sunday and Monday, 81 touchdowns were scored. Teams attempted a standard extra point on 75 of those occasions, converting on 71 of those kicks. That’s a success rate of 94.7 percent, which is down from 99.3 last season and 99.6 in 2013 but is still higher than it was for much of the 1970s.
In the last five years, we’ve seen a missed, blocked or otherwise botched extra point about once every two weeks, or an average of 7.4 per season. But we’re already on pace to have 64 misses this season.
It’s still a fluke when you miss, but it’s not quite as far-fetched as before.
This change also had a lot of folks wondering if we’d see more two-point attempts, but we had only six two-point conversion attempts despite those 81 touchdowns this week.
- Oakland failed on an incomplete pass down 20 points late in the fourth quarter.
- Seattle converted on a run down five in the fourth quarter.
- Houston converted on a pass down 12 in the fourth quarter.
- Indianapolis converted on a pass down 18 late in the third quarter.
- Indy failed on an incomplete pass down 13 in the fourth quarter.
- Pittsburgh converted on a pass down 11 in the third quarter.
It’s possible the Steelers would have waited for their two-point attempt under the old rules, but every other situation basically called for a two-point attempt (it wouldn’t have been a big mathematical advantage for the Raiders, but that came at the end of a blowout anyway).
Between 2012 and 2014, there were an average of 3.6 two-point conversion attempts per week (although 4.3 in Week 1) and 4.7 per touchdown. Early this year, those numbers are at 6.0 and 7.4. So it doesn’t appear as though teams are significantly more willing to gamble for two points than they were before.
Ultimately, losing a tiny iota of certainty regarding the extra point isn’t enough for most or all coaches to rationalize an out-of-the-ordinary two-point attempt, especially with a fake no longer possible. So the rule changes appear as though they’re pretty much useless.