There has been much hay made about the supposed impending demise of the extra point try, with even Roger Goodell coming out in favor of eliminating the vestigial gimme from the game. But no one in a position of power had offered a viable alternative–until now.
According to NFL.com, a member of the competition committee currently studying how to fix the PAT says the group's meeting have included a proposal to place the ball at the 25-yard-line, making it a 42-yard-kick. While keeping kickers a vital part of the sport, that would mean a drastic change in scoring, and game strategy as a whole.
Here's a chart of just how good kickers have gotten over the years, and how the drama has slowly seeped out of the extra point:
Teams converted 99.6 percent of their PATs last year. A 42-yard field goal is made somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of the time—a success rate the extra point hasn't seen since the early 1940s. Moving the try back would introduce some long-missing uncertainty into the conversion, and increase the value of reliable kickers.
A welcome side effect of a 42-yard PAT would be the increased emphasis on after-touchdown strategy, and a bigger spotlight on scaredy-cat coaches. As it is, the success rate on two-point conversion is somewhere around 50 percent, and the success rate on running for the two points is well over half. By making the extra point no longer a certainty, cold hard numbers would dictate that teams ought to go for two nearly every single time. They wouldn't, though, because coaches tend to be risk-averse, their fear of failure trumping the math of expected value. A world of 42-yard PATs would be Riverboat Ron's world.