The NFL owners approved rule changes to the extra point Tuesday at the spring meetings in San Francisco. The proposal that was eventually set forth by the competition committee -- the one which moves the extra point try without moving the yard line for a two-point conversion attempt -- is the one that passed.
Currently the line of scrimmage for both the extra point and two-point conversion is at the 2-yard line. Kicking the extra point there -- the equivalent of a 20-yard field goal -- essentially makes a touchdown worth seven points because of the near-perfect accuracy of kickers from that distance. Kickers have made at least 99 percent of extra points in each of the last five seasons, and there hasn't even been a season under 97 percent since 1988.
The adoption of the two-point conversion in 1994 added a strategic wrinkle to game-calling. Teams had the choice to either take the safe extra point or go for two points by trying to get into the end zone from the 2-yard line. Last year, teams converted 47.5 percent (27 of 56) of their two-point attempts. Since the rule was adopted, there have been only four seasons with a success rate of better than 50 percent.
The reason this is significant is that other proposals that were voted on included a change that would move the two-point conversion attempt up to the 1-yard line, which would convince teams to go for it more often. Last season, teams had a 57.5 percent success rate both rushing and throwing for touchdowns from the 1-yard line.
Now the ball will be placed at the 15-yard line for the extra point, making the kick a more difficult 33-yard attempt. Over the last five seasons, teams have made roughly 93 percent of field goals from that distance, meaning that the decision to kick the extra point is no longer a mere formality after scoring a touchdown.
Another interesting twist is that the ball will be live after the extra point or two-point conversion attempt. This means that the defense has a chance to score two points if they force a turnover. It makes the post-touchdown play a much more interesting one from a defensive perspective and will force teams to really consider the personnel they use on extra points and two-point conversion attempts.
It's worth noting that teams which line up at the 15-yard line can still score two points if they get into the end zone, whether because they faked it or had to abort the kick attempt. Teams are also allowed to change their mind if penalties occur. If it's an offensive penalty, they can choose to kick the ball from the 20-yard line (in the case of a false start) or the 25-yard line (in the case of holding) for one point. If it's a defensive penalty, they can try a two-point attempt from the 1-yard line.
Safeties also come into the equation. Philadelphia's proposal would have made any safety worth two points, but under the accepted competition committee proposal, they will be worth one point, regardless which direction they go. If the defense possesses the ball, leaves the end zone and then re-enters the end zone, the offense can get a safety if they make a tackle. If the offense possesses the ball and somehow manages to be taken for a 90-plus yard safety, the defense would get one point.
The Oakland Raiders and Washington both voted against the extra point rule change, according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports.
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