The Steelers might be a big winner in potential PAT change

Ray Fittipaldo 8 years ago

The NFL owners meeting came and went with no big news. Some rules were tweaked. Other rules up for discussion were tabled for further research.

One significant rules change could come in May when the owners reconvene. It appears the extra point will be changed.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s suggestion of moving the ball from the 2 to the 1 has the attention of the competition committee and a version of his rule could pass. The ball could be moved to the 1 ½ yard line and the defense could have the opportunity to score by returning a fumble or interception.

The thought behind changing the PAT is eliminating a play that has become too predictable. Twenty six of the 32 teams in the NFL did not miss an extra point in 2014. The others only missed one or two.

The two-point conversion is far less predictable. NFL teams convert that play about 50 percent of the time.

The Steelers have been one of the most successful teams in the league under Mike Tomlin on two-point conversions. Over the past five seasons they have converted 8 of their 10 two-point attempts. Last season they were 4 for 4.

That obviously is a small sample size and attempting more plays from the 1 or 1 ½ more often no doubt would lower the percentage. It’s worth noting the Steelers scored on 5 of their 10 plays from the 1-yard line last season, including four of their final five in the final six games.

Only 59 two-point conversions were attempted last season, with 28 being successful (47.5 percent). The Steelers were one of eight teams with perfect two-point conversion percentages. Seventeen teams failed to convert one two-point attempt.

But it would be a definite advantage for some teams. Like the Steelers, the St. Louis Rams have been very successful with two-point conversions in the past five years. They have converted 9 of 11 since 2010.

St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher, by the way, is the head of the competition committee.

Others will have some work to do with their short-yardage offense. The Cleveland Browns, for example, are 1 for 8 on two-point attempts since 2010; the Jets 1 for 7.

Fisher said one of the reasons the issue is being tabled until May is discussion on what would happen when penalties occurred. PATs would be pushed back to the 6 or 11 or even the 16 with 5-, 10- or 15-yard penalties and there is not a consensus on what should happen in those instances. Would the team be forced to go for two again? Or could they bring their kicker out and attempt a 1-point conversion?