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What Will The New PAT Rules Mean to Football as We Know It

What effect will the new point after rule have on the game?

Al Bello/Getty Images

Al Bello/Getty Images


Are you ready for more football? I certainly hope so. Because that is exactly what the NFL is attempting to deliver. They are tinkering with the rules again to give you more football than you have ever had before. What’s interesting is the particular area of the game they are tweaking.

More Points Is a Pointless Pursuit

The last few years have been ostensibly about player safety. It just happens to coincide with the other focus on making the game more offensively exciting and higher scoring. As a long-time fan of the sport, I cannot imagine why anyone would believe the game has any sort of excitement deficit.

If the ball is skillfully thrown and caught for a touchdown, that is wildly exciting to exactly half the viewing audience. If the ball is run for no yards, stuffed at the line of scrimmage by big uglies with names like, “Schlemenheimer”, that is equally exciting to the other half of the audience. Making it easier to score is only exciting to fans of teams that tend to make a habit of losing. Winning teams do not care about how many points are scored. That only matters to losing teams.

Helping Those That Need It the Least

Traditionally, teams like the San Diego Chargers don’t need more points. For years, they have had Phillip Rivers at the helm and he has been one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league. Stopping others from doing the same has been more their issue. Similarly, a Peyton Manning led team does not have to panhandle for points. Make rules to favor the offense, and Manning will just score more points. The rich get richer. So far, the tinkering has not helped losing teams change their stripes.

PAT: Looking for Points in All the Wrong Places

If helping strong offenses gain even more points did nothing to help point-starved teams, where might we find a few extra points? Hmmm… Extra points… That’s an idea, and exactly the one the NFL has decided on.

The real question is, what effect will it have on the game. Before tackling the real question, let’s take a closer look at why they are doing it in the first place. According to

The NFL has been tinkering with the PAT in hopes of making it a more difficult and therefore entertaining play for spectators. The latest change might be just the first step of further adjustments in years to come.

The problem with that explanation is that it holds no statistical water. The rule sets the ball on the 15 yard line for an extra point, instead of the 2. That makes it a 32 yard field-goal. In the video from the same page, the pundits acknowledged that kicks from the new distance end up being completed at a 98% rate. That will do nothing to change the coaching calculus when it comes to deciding whether or not to go for two. They are facing the same odds as they were last year.

If the NFL had really wanted to make it more difficult, they could have replaced the kick with a play from the 1 for one point, and from the 2 for two points. This will not result in more two-point plays. On rare occasions, the defense will score on a turnover, whereas before, they couldn’t.

Here’s to the Losers

Bottom line: If your team was a loser before this new rule, it will be a loser when the 2015 season comes to an end. Nothing about this rule will change the equation. If coaches do decide to go for 2 more often, they will probably make it more often. The beneficiaries will be teams with good offenses who are great at scoring points. The desperate teams looking for a miracle will not find one, here.

This is football. Did you even watch last year’s Super Bowl? The only way to make the game more exciting is to replace the players with tanks and live ammo. Then again, it wouldn’t be football anymore. And that will be the inevitable fate of the game if we continue this incessant tinkering in search of a few more ratings.

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