NFL moves PAT back to 15-yard line
SAN FRANCISCO — The NFL is moving back extra-point kicks and allowing defenses to score on conversion turnovers.
The owners on Tuesday approved the competition committee’s proposal to snap the ball from the 15-yard line on PATs to make them more challenging. In recent seasons, kickers made more than 99 percent of the kicks with the ball snapped from the 2.
“There was strong sentiment coming out of our meetings in March that something had to be done with our extra point,” said Texans general manager Rick Smith, a member of the competition committee that proposed this specific rule change. “From a kicking perspective, the try was over 99 percent (successful), so we tried to add skill to the play. It was also a ceremonial play.”
The accepted proposal places the 2-point conversion at the 2, and allows the defense to return a turnover to the other end zone for the two points, similar to the college rule. The defense also can score two points by returning a botched kick.
The change was approved only for 2015, then will be reviewed. But Smith predicts it will become permanent.
“This isn’t an experiment,” Smith added. “This is a rule change. We expect this to be a part of the game.”
The vote was 30-2. Washington and Oakland voted no.
Steelers president Art Rooney II had said he didn’t favor a change in the extra-point process if the goal was just to make the play more difficult for a kicker. Instead, he wanted to add excitement to the play by modifying it.
“My preference is that we wind up with adding a football play as opposed to just making it a harder kick,” Rooney said prior to the NFL Annual Meeting in March. “So if we can encourage the two-point play by moving the ball up, I think that is something to think about … I would rather see us add an exciting football play as opposed to just making it a harder kick.”
Rooney preferred coach Mike Tomlin’s idea of moving the ball to the 1 to entice teams to go for a 2-point conversion more frequently. The Steelers never made it into a formal proposal, although Tomlin brought it up to the committee.
“It would make the decision a little more interesting,” Rooney said.
New England and Philadelphia also made suggestions on changing the extra point, but the owners went with the powerful committee’s recommendation.
Officiating chief Dean Blandino said the percentage of kicks made from the 33- or 34-yard line has been around 93 percent. And Troy Vincent, in charge of NFL football operations, noted that placekickers can handle such an alteration.
“The kicker’s a skill position now,” Vincent said. “We’re not trying to take the foot out of the game.”