If the NFL’s goal with its new extra point rule was to make the play more competitive and less automatic, the league succeeded.
Extra point success rates dropped to their lowest levels in decades this season. For the 2015 season as a whole, kickers made 1,146 extra points on 1,217 attempts, a 94.2 percent success rate. That’s far worse than last year, when kickers went 1,222-for-1,230, or 99.3 percent.
The last time the league-wide success rate was below 95 percent was in 1979, and it’s been above 97 percent every year since 1989. Kickers used to view extra points as close to sure things, but that’s no longer the case: From 1992 to 2014, no kicker who attempted at least 20 extra points ever made less than 90 percent of them. This year five kickers who attempted 20 or more extra points made less than 90 of them.
But if the NFL’s goal was to get more teams to go for two, that didn’t work as well. Two-point conversion attempts were up from 58 last year to 94 this year, but that’s still a rate of less than one two-point conversion attempt every other game. That’s not enough of a difference for the average fan to notice. Although the Steelers set a new NFL record with eight successful two-point conversion attempts this season, they were the only team that regularly defied the standard chart for when to kick and when to go for two. Around the league, going for two is still the exception, not the norm.
The NFL will likely stick with the current extra point rule in 2016, but there will be continued debates about tweaking the rule, either by moving kicks farther back or moving two-point attempts closer to the goal line. Eventually, extra points may get even harder, and two-point conversions may get even more enticing. This won’t be the last year that the NFL makes a change to the extra point rule.