The NFL’s new extra-point rule, which pushed extra-point kicks further back to incentivise going for two, has already had an effect on the game this season.
Missed PATs are way up from last year and teams are going for two more often, creating a little more excitement around the plays immediately following a touchdown.
More than other teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers are all over the new rules.
Through two weeks the Steelers lead all teams in two-point conversions, going three-for-three on such attempts, essentially creating an extra field goal in points. The Steelers made waves in Week 2 when they went for two on their first two touchdowns of the game, both of which were in the first half. According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, they were the first team in 17 years to successfully complete a two-pointer in the first quarter.
They don’t plan on stopping either, according to Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that the Steelers plan on continuing to go for two and have worked it into their practices:
“Oh, we’re going to keep doing it. We don’t practice it this much to not do it. We practice it every single day. … I tried to tell you guys early on that we would do it, and I think you guys kind of didn’t quite believe it. But it’s something we feel comfortable with.”
Roethlisberger added, “If you’re up 8-0 and [the opposing teams] go score, they have a decision to make. We feel like we’re a team that’s going to do it enough that it’s going to be hard to get a beat on us.”
As Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith notes, the Steelers are smart for continuing this strategy. They’re averaging a full two points per attempt while they’re 4-5 on kicks — .8 points per attempt. As they have already demonstrated, nailing three two-point conversions is the same as an extra field goal. While they can’t expect that efficiency to continue, it is still more points than they’d get from kicking the PAT each time.
Of course, this isn’t for every team. The Steelers are the second most efficient offence in the NFL. If it were, say, the Houston Texans, who struggle to get to the end zone anyway, then taking the PAT is probably the better route.
Eventually, there will be a game decided by a team’s decision to go for or not go for two. As the season goes on, it will be fascinating to see how this strategy continues to evolve — when in games and how frequently teams go for it and how the maths around it changes.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.