The NFL’s new extra-point rule has already affected offenses two weeks into the regular season.
In the offseason, NFL owners voted to move the extra-point kick point line further back after teams had made 99% of extra-point kicks the year before. Moving the kick to the 15-yard line turned it from a 17-yard kick to a 33-yard kick.
In doing so, the NFL hoped there would be less guarantee of making the extra point and more incentive go to for two.
The results have been positive so far. In Week 1, there were four missed extra-point attempts, putting the NFL on pace to have 70 during the season compared to eight all of last year.
Early in Week 2, we’ve already seen the NFL adapt to the new rule. The Pittsburgh Steelers perhaps best exemplified this by going for two on their first two touchdowns of the game, both in the first half.
The timing of the two-point attempts were surprising, too, as the Steelers are the first team this season to go for two while leading the game. In Week 1, the only teams to go for two were teams trailing by two.
In general, the Steelers broke about every rule in the game regarding two-point conversions:
Move over, Ken Dilger: http://t.co/imSKYTEJh9
Antonio Brown the first player to score on a 2pt conversion in the 1st quarter since '98.
— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) September 20, 2015
While it’s early in the season, the Steelers have opened the door for new methodologies in the NFL.
Though the math still favors PATs, teams with enough confidence in their offense could look at it pretty simply. If an explosive offensive team like the Steelers believes they can make more than 50% of their two-point attempts, then there’s extra incentive to go for two. While two kicks could equal a two-point conversion or surpass it in the event of a failed two-point conversion, if the Steelers believe they can convert on back-to-back two-point conversions, they could secure four points as opposed to two.
Obviously, this won’t be for every team. Teams with less potent offenses will just take the PAT and move on. Eventually, going for two will hurt a team when they miss and don’t secure any extra points – going for two is still a risk.
However, the NFL was smart to revise their extra-point rules, as they’ve now created scenarios where legitimate scheming is needed after touchdowns. How teams work around these scenarios will be interesting to watch as teams continue to adjust to the new rules.