Long extra point receives mixed reviews

Posted Aug 18, 2014

Find out what the Lions' kickers think of the long extra point experiment.

If the NFL’s competition committee wants a close evaluation of how it went moving the extra point back to the 15-yard line the first two weeks of the preseason, they should simply watch the end of the first two Detroit Lions games.

The NFL moved the extra point spot back to the 15-yard line, which made the total distance of the attempt 33-yards, in an attempt to see if it would make the play more competitive.

The Lions won their preseason opener, 13-12, thanks to a Giorgio Tavecchio extra point with a minute left in the game. There was a little drama attached to that being a 33-yard attempt.

A week later, Oakland defeated the Lions, 27-26, in the final seconds on a Sebastian Janikowski extra point. Lions rookie Nate Freese missed his first attempt of the game to put Janikowski in a position to win it by hitting his.

Nate FreeseK Nate Freese (Photo: Gavin Smith)

There was late-game drama at the end of both contests, which the NFL must have liked to see.

Kickers converted 99.6 percent of points after touchdowns last season (1,262 of 1,267) with the 2-yard line being the spot of the attempt and the total distance 20 yards.

Over the last two weeks, kickers converted 118 of 127 attempts from the longer distance, according to Freese, which comes out to 92.9 percent. That’s still a pretty high percentage, but the NFL seems to have gotten their wish of it being a little bit more competitive.

This was a two-game test for the league and the spot reverts back to the 2-yard line for the rest of the preseason and all of the regular season.

“They put that into play so that the PAT is not so automatic and so they're putting a little stress on it and obviously for us it certainly gave us a problem on the first one,” head coach Jim Caldwell said after the Oakland game.

“But you have several choices to make there, you can also go for two and I think that's what they wanted you to do, think about, bring a little bit more excitement into the game and see where it goes. It's a couple weeks. That experiment is over. And I know it will be evaluated thoroughly and then we'll move on.”

The league will no-doubt revisit the issue this offseason, but what do the kickers want?

“They want to make it a more exciting play, but personally I want to make it less exciting," Tavecchio said with a laugh.

“It was interesting. For me personally it almost feels a little awkward to kick from the middle of the field because we work off the hashes."

So is Tavecchio looking forward to getting back to the old spot?

"I do what I'm told," he said. "That's were I'll leave it at."

He admits that adopting the new spot permanently could leave coaches with some interesting decisions to make at times.

“Let’s say that you miss an early one,” Tavecchio said. “The next time you trot out after a touchdown the team might think twice about going for two points to make that point up.

"I see this playing a bigger role in the dynamic of the decision.”

The league and its coaches will also have to consider the weather late in the season, according to Freese.

“Say we’re in Detroit inside in a dome on Week 16,” he said. “That’s a heck of a lot different than outside Week 16 in Chicago or something like that.”

That’s something neither Freese or Tavecchio have to worry about for the remainder of this season, but expect the league to take a close look at its two-week experiment and revisit the issue next spring.