NFL owners weigh extra-point rule changes: Here’s what’s on the line
NFL team owners are scheduled to begin meetings Tuesday in San Francisco, where the discussion is expected to bounce from future Super Bowl host cities to stadium proposals in Los Angeles and St. Louis, but one of the most interesting topics will be proposed changes to the rules governing extra points after a touchdown.
As it stands, after a team scores a touchdown on offense or defense, the line of scrimmage for the PAT (point after touchdown) is set at the 2-yard line and they can kick what is usually an automatic 20-yard field goal for one point or, from the same spot on the 2-yard line, they can go for two points with a running or passing play.
There are three rule-change proposals the owners are expected to consider on over the course of the next two days, one from the the New England Patriots, one from the Philadelphia Eagles and one from the NFL Competition Committee:
New England Patriots: Move extra-point attempts back 15 yards
Last season, only seven teams didn’t convert 100% of their extra-point attempts thanks to blocks by the defense or shanked kicks. New England’s proposed rule change would move the kicking team back to the 15-yard line for an extra-point attempt of about 33 yards.
If they choose to go for two points, they would lineup at the 2-yard line as before.
Philadelphia Eagles: Move the lines of scrimmage; both teams can score
The Eagles’ rule change would follow the Patriots in moving field-goal attempts back to the 15-yard line. However, if a team goes for the two-point try, the ball will be placed on the 1-yard line. The other major change is that the Philadelphia plan allows for the defense to have a chance to score on the play as well.
Currently, if the defense takes possession of the ball during the extra-point attempt, the ball is whistled dead and the play ends. The Eagles’ suggested rule change would allow the defense to recover the ball and, if they can travel the length of the field, claim the two points.
NFL Competition Committee: Move field-goal attempts back; both teams can score
The competition committee plan is essentially a blend of the Patriots’ and Eagles’ plans. In this version of the PAT, a field-goal attempt by the scoring team would be moved back to the 15-yard line. A two-point conversion would still take place at the 2-yard line, but the defense would be able to recover the ball and score as in the Eagles’ proposal.
What needs to happen for the rule to change?
A rule change would require the approval of 24 of the 32 NFL team owners to go into effect for the 2015 season.
Any of the proposed plans would make extra-point attempts a bit more interesting for fans and each seems more likely to be implemented than some of the league’s other recent attempts at spicing up the game.
During the Pro Bowl in Arizona, the NFL experimented with narrower goal posts, down to 14 feet wide from 18.6 feet, with field-goal attempts made from the 15-yard line. The result: three missed kicks. The league also tried out PATs from the 20-yard line during the preseason last year, which saw two missed kicks.
Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme
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