NFL owners this week voted 30-2 to adopt a new rule, the first major rule change to affect scoring in a long time.
Under the new rule, point-after kicks — which have become routine, ceremonial plays with all the drama of drying cement and the impact of a mosquito landing on your arm — are going to take on a whole new adventurous meaning.
The change has two aspects.
First, rather than kicking PATs from the two-yard line, the ball will be placed at the 15-yard line for the attempt. Although that’s still not a real challenge for an NFL place-kicker, it does increase the margin for error and give the defense the ability to build up a hard charge intended to deflect the kick. And of course, the PAT becomes a 25-yard field goal. (In the 2014 season, there were approximately 250 field goal attempts inside 30 yards and kickers made all but five of them.)
So maybe it won’t be that much more difficult for the kickers. But the second aspect of the rule change is that if the defense blocks the PAT, they will be allowed to recover the ball and run it back for a two-point score. (I don’t know if they’ll call this a safety or give it another name.)
Nice Move, But Not Far Enough!
As I said, I like the rule change even though its impact is likely to be small.
But I’ve been advocating another scoring rule change for years that I’d still like to see the NFL implement at some point. And that relates to the number of points scored for a field goal.
Long field goals are hard, so you’d think I might be in favor of giving teams more points for long kicks than for chip shots. But you’d be wrong. Follow me here.
Every drive is intended to produce a touchdown. (A college coach told me back in the day when I was writing sports full time that every play is designed to score a TD, thus the vast majority of plays were failures.) The closer a team gets to the goal line, the closer it comes to its real goal. If they get stymied just shy of the six-pointer, I think a field goal should be worth more than one kicked from 50 yards away by a team that could barely get the ball into enemy territory.
In other words, by my way of thinking, you reward the team with points dependent on the overall offensive drive’s performance, not on the basis of one guy’s strong, accurate leg.
So, here’s how I’d do it.
Call me crazy but I think that would spice games up a lot. I hate to see a team win in the waning moments of a hard-fought game by moving the ball to just across the 50 and then punching in a long field goal. Make them work for those points!
What do you think?