Dropping the PAT would affect scoring leaders

03/04/2014

By Saleem Choudhry

A hot-button topic in the National Football League so far this offseason has been the possible elimination of the extra point. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell raised the issue during an interview on NFL Network in January and debate about the matter has seemingly intensified in the weeks since his comment.


"The extra point is almost automatic," Goodell said. "I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd (attempts). So it's a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play.”

Jamaal Charles would be the 2013 leading scorer under the proposed scoring change.

The Commissioner is correct in that the extra point has become “almost automatic.” NFL teams across the board converted a record 99.6 percent of all extra point tries during the 2013 season. But in essence, the PAT has always been somewhat of a given. Only once in the modern-era (1946-present) has the successful conversion percentage of the extra point dipped below 90 percent (89.7 in 1976). The efficiency of kickers, however, has steadily improved. Since the strike-shortened 1982 season, the conversion rate on a kicker’s try after a TD has never fallen below 95 percent.

One of the solutions tossed around to replace the extra point is to raise the scoring total of a touchdown from six to seven points. After a TD is scored, the offensive team would still be given the option to attempt what we now know as a two-point conversion. If the try is successful, it would result in an additional eighth point. A failed attempt would result in a reduction of one point or just six points added to the scoreboard.

If this rule was put into place, how would it impact the yearly scoring leaders and/or the all-time scoring output? New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who was the 2013 scoring champion with 158 points, would not have claimed the scoring title under the suggested scoring format. He would have finished in a tie for second place with 114 points. Under the new scoring system, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (who finished 18th in scoring) would have won the league title with his 19 touchdowns totaling an adjusted 133 points.

Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater would experience one of the biggest drops. His 150 points, which ranked second in the league and benefitted greatly from a single-season record 75 PATs, drops to only 75 adjusted points and a 34th overall ranking.

What if this proposed rules change had always been the standard for scoring? A glimpse at the all-time leading scorers shows actually only minor changes at the top. Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson remain first and second respectively on the adjusted list. One player who elevates the most is wide receiver Jerry Rice who is the game’s all-time leader in touchdowns. His 1,464 adjusted points advances him from 31st to 10th on the all-time leading scorers list.

Here is a quick look at the 2013 top scorers and the all-time leading scorers under the proposed scoring changes.

2013 Adjusted Scoring Leaders

Adjusted Rank 2013 Rank Name Pos. Games TD PAT FG Pts Adjusted Points
1 18 Charles, Jamaal (KC) RB 16 19 0 0 114 133
2T 1 Gostkowski, Stephen (NE) K 16 0 44 38 158 114
2T 6 Tucker, Justin (BLT) K 16 0 26 38 140 114
4 31 Graham, Jimmy (NO) TE 16 16 0 0 96 112
5 8 Vinatieri, Adam (IND) K 16 0 34 35 139 105
6 3 Novak, Nick (SD) K 16 0 42 34 144 102
7T 4 Hauschka, Steven (SEA) K 16 0 44 33 143 99
7T 5 Crosby, Mason (GB) K 16 0 42 33 141 99
7T 9 Carpenter, Dan (BUF) K 16 0 32 33 131 99
7T 13 Folk, Nick (NYJ) K 16 0 27 33 126 99
11T 34 Lynch, Marshawn (SEA) RB 16 14 0 0 84 98
11T 34 Thomas, Demaryius (DEN) WR 16 14 0 0 84 98
13 6 Dawson, Phil (SF) K 16 0 44 32 140 96
14T 37 Bryant, Dez (DAL) WR 16 13 0 0 78 91
14T 37 Moreno, Knowshon (DEN) RB 16 13 0 0 78 91
14T 37 Davis, Vernon (SF) TE 16 13 0 0 78 91
17T 11 Suisham, Shaun (PIT) K 16 0 39 30 129 90
17T 12 Feely, Jay (ARZ) K 16 0 37 30 127 90
19 40 Marshall, Brandon (CHI) WR 16 12 0 0 76 88
20 41 Forte, Matt (CHI) RB 16 12 0 0 74 86

All-Time Adjusted Top 40

Adjusted All-Time Rank All-Time Rank Name Pos. TD FG PAT 2PT Pts Adjusted Points
1 1 Andersen, Morten K 0 565 849 0 2,544 1,979
2 2 Anderson, Gary K 0 538 820 0 2,434 1,896
3 7 Blanda, George QB-K 9 335 942 0 2,002 1,676
4 3 Hanson, Jason K 0 495 665 0 2,150 1,655
5 4 Carney, John K 0 478 628 0 2,062 1,584
6 5 Vinatieri, Adam K 0 448 660 1 2,006 1,558
7 8 Elam, Jason K 0 436 675 0 1,983 1,547
8 6 Stover, Matt K 0 471 591 0 2,004 1,533
9 9 Kasay, John K 0 461 587 0 1,970 1,509
10 31 Rice, Jerry WR 208 0 0 4 1,256 1,464
11 10 Johnson, Norm K 0 366 638 0 1,736 1,370
12 11 Akers, David K 0 386 563 0 1,721 1,335
13 12 Lowery, Nick K 0 383 562 0 1,711 1,328
14 13 Stenerud, Jan K 0 373 580 0 1,699 1,326
15 14 Longwell, Ryan K 0 361 604 0 1,687 1,326
16 15 Murray, Eddie K 0 352 538 0 1,594 1,242
17 16 Del Greco, Al K 0 347 543 0 1,584 1,237
18 47 Smith, Emmitt RB 175 0 0 1 1,052 1,227
19 17 Mare, Olindo K 0 356 487 0 1,555 1,199
20 20 Leahy, Pat K 0 304 558 0 1,470 1,166
21 18 Janikowski, Sebastian K 0 345 454 0 1,489 1,144
22 19 Christie, Steve K 0 336 468 0 1,476 1,140
23 21 Turner, Jim K 1 304 521 0 1,439 1,136
24 55 Tomlinson, LaDainian RB 162 0 0 0 972 1,134
25 23 Bahr, Matt K 0 300 522 0 1,422 1,122
26 30 Groza, Lou T-K 1 234 641 0 1,349 1,116
27 22 Feely, Jay K 1 329 444 0 1,437 1,109
28 24 Wilkins, Jeff K 0 307 495 0 1,416 1,109
29 60 Moss, Randy WR 157 0 0 4 950 1,107
30 27 Bakken, Jim K 0 282 534 0 1,380 1,098
31 62 Owens, Terrell WR 156 0 0 3 942 1,098
32 28 Cox, Fred K 0 282 519 0 1,365 1,083
33 26 Moseley, Mark K 0 300 482 0 1,382 1,082
34 25 Dawson, Phil K 1 337 394 0 1,411 1,075
35 29 Lindell, Rian K 0 306 432 0 1,350 1,044
36 75 Allen, Marcus RB 145 0 0 1 872 1,017
37 32 Breech, Jim K 0 243 517 0 1,246 1,003
38 38 Cappelletti, Gino WR-K 42 176 342 4 1,130 996
39 34 Bahr, Chris K 0 241 490 0 1,213 972
40 79 Faulk, Marshall RB 136 0 0 7 830 966


Choudhry is a researcher at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He joined the Hall of Fame's staff in 1994.


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