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To PAT Or Not To PAT?

That is the question.

Rob Carr

Sorry we’re a day or two late on this one, but late’s better than never, right?

Anyways, if you haven’t heard, Rodger Goodell recently commented that the NFL will take a look at removing the extra point kick. Now, before you flip out/ cheer (depending on how you feel about that), keep in mind that the NFL is currently at the “we are preparing to prepare to consider considering the possibility of possibly doing this” stage. That said, it’s the furthest the league has ever come in discussing this, despite a few years of league leaders like Bill Belichick suggesting the move.

Is this a good idea? For sure, extra points are fairly automatic- they’re about the closest thing you have in the NFL to it. Very rarely, they are indeed blocked or outright missed, but it’s not unusual to go an entire season and post-season without that happening. Basically, every time someone scores a touchdown, you can pretty much chalk it up to seven points as opposed to the actual six that were scored (assuming, of course, there’s no attempt for a two point conversion).

Speaking of two point conversions, which have made or broken many a close game, I can’t see those going out the window. I’m not sure exactly what the league is planning in this regard, but if I recall correctly, Belichick had an interesting idea on that a while back, when he first proposed removing the PAT. Again, assuming I remember right, his idea was this: touchdowns count for seven points. You have the option to gamble for an additional point if necessary- that is, you can go for basically a two point conversion (that in fact still only nets you one extra- for a total of eight- considering you started in essence with seven), but if you fail you lose a point. Once more, if you score and do nothing, you get seven. If you attempt to convert and succeed, you get eight; but if you fail, you only get six. Not a terrible idea overall, and one that definitely keeps the spirit of the conversion alive.

The idea has also been floated of moving the extra point back, somewhere between 10-20 yards further. That’s still pretty reliable for most NFL kickers, but there are far more 20-30 yard field goals missed in any given season than extra points, so it does add some level of added difficulty to it all.

Me, personally, I’m not sure why a change is necessary. Again, I get they’re about as automatic as something can be in the NFL, but they’re not a true guarantee. (And games have been decided on a missed PAT.) And it’s not like it harms the game’s integrity to have relatively ho-hum, routine plays right after a touchdown. Frankly, you are making the game easier to get rid of them altogether, because then seven points per touchdown are in fact guaranteed. I could get on board making them more difficult, but I don’t see the point of removing them altogether. Maybe if Belichick won a game by one point when the opposing team actually had a PAT blocked/ missed, he might think different? Not to mention, it’s not like there’s a safety risk during those plays (at least no more than any other play in football).

But that’s my opinion. What say you, fellow Norsemen? To PAT or not to PAT? Or to make PAT-ing more difficult?