What’s the Point?

Three minutes left in the game, and the New England Patriots are up by six points. They punt the ball down to the thirty-yard line, and you’re feeling good (despite New England Quarterback Tom Brady deflatinghis footballs). Your Colts have Andrew LuckAdam Vinatieri, and the game is being played in Indianapolis. First and ten, T.Y. Hilton burns the defense. Luck’s pass is good for forty yards, and it’s time to run out the clock. Several plays later with less than a minute to go, it is first and ten on the three-yard line. The Colts pound the ball into the end zone for a touchdown, and you go wild, your team just won!

Although the game is tied, the reality is that an extra point, or a point awarded following a successful kick after a touchdown, has been a foregone conclusion. It was a sure thing, a play where everyone knows the result. That is, until the 2015-16 season, when the National Football League (NFL) is likely to make a series of that might hold off cheering in the scenario previously mentioned, if only for one minute. The rule change will move the extra point back from the two-yard line, to the fifteen-yard line as well as allow the defense to score during the play. Changes are long overdue, and the NFL will be more fun to watch if the result of any given play is not predetermined. However, the NFL should do the opposite and move the ball to the one-yard line to encourage teams to go for the two-point conversion.

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Although the game is tied, the reality is that an extra point, or a point awarded following a successful kick after a touchdown, has been a foregone conclusion. It was a sure thing, a play where everyone knows the result. That is, until the 2015-16 season, when the National Football League (NFL) is likely to make a series of that might hold off cheering in the scenario previously mentioned, if only for one minute. The rule change will move the extra point back from the two-yard line, to the fifteen-yard line as well as allow the defense to score during the play. Changes are long overdue, and the NFL will be more fun to watch if the result of any given play is not predetermined. However, the NFL should do the opposite and move the ball to the one-yard line to encourage teams to go for the two-point conversion.

Although the game is tied, the reality is that an extra point, or a point awarded following a successful kick after a touchdown, has been a foregone conclusion. It was a sure thing, a play where everyone knows the result. That is, until the 2015-16 season, when the National Football League (NFL) is likely to make a series of rule changes that might hold off cheering in the scenario previously mentioned, if only for one minute. The rule change will move the extra point back from the two-yard line, to the fifteen-yard line as well as allow the defense to score during the play. Changes are long overdue, and the NFL will be more fun to watch if the result of any given play is not predetermined. However, the NFL should do the opposite and move the ball to the one-yard line to encourage teams to go for the two-point conversion.

If the ball is moved to the one-yard line, teams will be more likely to “go for two.” Nowadays, NFL kickers are good, fields are synthetic, and since there are indoor stadiums, a place like Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis is 71 degrees in January. These three factors have made the extra point a wasted play, with more than 99% sailing through the uprights in the past five years. In fact, the worst year for kickers in a generation was still better than 95%, so moving the ball from the two -yard line to the one-yard line won’t improve kicker’s stats much but it will encourage teams to “go for two.” After the 2014-15 season two-point conversions were successful just under 50% of the time, so moving the ball to the 1-yard line will certainly improve those statistics and mix things up.

At first glance, I supported the likely rule change and could not imagine doing the opposite. The new rules, however, ensure teams won’t go for two unless the game is on the line, and they are down by one or two. Also, did I mention kickers are good now? The league average of field goals under forty yards is over 95% with a consistent and steady rise since 1983. Next season when fans continue to go get up and take bathroom breaks in unison after every touchdown, I will again encourage the NFL owners to take a deeper look and move the ball to 1.