THE SANTA CLARA
September 24, 2015
The National Football League subtly made a big change in their rulebook this season, that’s fundamentally changing the way football is played.
For decades, the extra point has been a staple in American football; score a touchdown, then send out the field goal unit to get the seventh point while your team gets ready for defense.
As meaningless as one point may seem from an outsider’s perspective, the point after attempt has truly become a tradition in this spirited patriotic American sport.
So when the NFL announced that they were moving the point after attempt back to the 15-yard line, it was no surprise that skeptics cried foul on evolving a rule that had not been touched since football looked closer to rugby than what millions of Americans watch every Sunday.
“The problem is, coaches are still stuck in the old thing a little bit,” former Jets special teams coach Mike Westerhoff said to Sports Illustrated last year. “They ignore the odds and play it safe.”
The NFL has only played two weeks under the new rule, but a dramatic impact has already been seen.
This season kickers have already missed nine extra point attempts, which is already more than the total amount missed last season.
With change comes evolution in the NFL, and coaches are beginning to see first-hand how the point after is no longer a routine exercise.
Teams are already beginning to change their strategy. Seven two-point conversions have already been successful this season, on pace to double last year’s total of 28.
Of course, NFL kickers are not thrilled with the new challenge.
“I don’t like the rule because — I could be wrong — but I don’t know of any rules that have been changed to make guys fail more,” Cincinnati Bengals kicker Mike Nugent mentioned in an ESPN article that ran earlier this week.
Unfortunately for Nugent and the 31 other starting kickers in the league, the NFL prioritizes making the game more entertaining over the success of the place kicker.
And entertainment is what the NFL is getting with the new and improved point after attempt. In last Sunday’s Steelers vs. 49ers game, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin elected to go for two after both of the team’s first two touchdowns.
The result, two successful tries and four extra points to Pittsburgh’s lead.
Ironically, Steelers kicker Josh Scobee missed his first PAT attempt after the team’s third touchdown, further confirming the call to go for two.
Two successful two-point conversions followed by a missed PAT in the first half would never happen under the old rule!
All in all, the NFL is an entertainment business obsessed with gaining more fans and revenue.
With the rule change, the league has successfully made a once boring and seemingly automatic play into a more meaningful and engaging part of the game.
For all the flack the NFL has received over the past year, whether it be the several sexual assault issues, ignorance of player safety or deflategate, the league is finally making headlines for the right reasons.
Contact Nick Redfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.