Dec 10, 2021 - Sports

NFL extra point success rate plunges to 92.4%, lowest since 1979

NFL extra point success rate, 1970-2021
Data: Football Reference; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

NFL kickers are making 92.4% of their extra points attempts this season, the lowest mark since 1979, when they made 91.3%.

The backdrop: The NFL moved extra points back by 13 yards in 2015 (two-yard line to 15-yard line), turning what had been a sure thing (99.3% success rate in 2014) into much less of one (94.2% a year later).

  • The 2015 drop-off was nearly identical to the one kickers experienced in 1974, when the NFL moved goal posts back by 10 yards (the front of the end zone to the back).

Yes, but: By the 1980s, kickers had adjusted to the change and began to improve. That's not happening this time around, as the success rate continues to drop.

1973-80: Success rate fell from 97.7% to 92.1% (-5.6%) in the first season following the 10-yard change. Six years later, it was back up to 94.9% (-2.8% from 1973) and on the verge of a steady climb to 99%+.

  • 1973: 97.7%
  • 1974: 92.1%
  • 1975: 91.4%
  • 1976: 90.9%
  • 1977: 91.9%
  • 1978: 93.1%
  • 1979: 91.3%
  • 1980: 94.9%

2014-21: Success rate fell from 99.3% to 94.2% (-5.1%) in the first season following the 13-yard change. Six years later, it's down even further to 92.4% (-6.9% from 2015) and trending in the wrong direction.

  • 2014: 99.3%
  • 2015: 94.2%
  • 2016: 93.6%
  • 2017: 94%
  • 2018: 94.3%
  • 2019: 93.9%
  • 2020: 93%
  • 2021: 92.4%

State of play: Five teams are under 85% on extra points this season (Texans, Jaguars, Chargers, Saints, Jets), while five are perfect (Bills, Eagles, Ravens, Falcons, Giants).

The big picture: Kickers' lack of success on extra points has led to an increase in two-point attempts, which could ultimately make the NFL more exciting, notes PFT's Michael David Smith:

Perhaps coaches are starting to recognize that the extra point kick is no gimme, and that if they're on the fence between kicking and going for two, they should go for two ... [Which] is a much more exciting play than the extra point.
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