Denver Broncos | News

Four weeks into the long-PAT era, the impact is profound

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The Competition Committee got what it desired: the extra point matters again.

Through Thursday night, placekickers missed 17 attempts after the kick was moved back from a 20-yard attempt to a 33-yarder. In the previous three seasons combined, there were 19 missed extra points -- an average of one every 40.4 games. The overall success rate of 94.5 percent is in line with the average for 33-yard placekicks over the last five years.

"I'm not surprised. I said that going in," Broncos Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. "I said that it was going to be a big difference in the league and it's been a big difference in the league.

"Like I said last week, the NFL has gotten what they wanted. They wanted more pizzazz to that play, and they got it. That's for sure."

And they've changed the dynamics of how kickers must prepare.

Sometimes, they do not receive a proper warmup before an attempt that would normally require it. One example came after Ronnie Hillman's 72-yard touchdown run last Sunday; that was the only play of the possession and forced the Broncos' specialists into scramble mode.

"The situation when Ronnie had the long touchdown run -- I didn't get to warm up, and Aaron [Brewer] didn't get to snap to warm up. So those, I think, are the main reasons why kickers might be missing extra points."

That hasn't happened to McManus yet, but he understands why it might.

"I think there are a lot of times where kickers might be a little mental [thinking about] how they didn't get to warm up in the net, so they need to focus quickly on this kick," McManus said.

"Sometimes you're sitting on the bench and the defense scores, and you have to run 50 yards this way to get your helmet, and then run 80 yards back the other way. That's probably the biggest issue."

But it hasn't borne itself out on the field -- at least, not yet. No kicker has missed on an extra point attempted after a defensive or special-teams touchdown this season; kickers are a perfect 31-of-31 in that scenario.

When factoring in touchdowns of 30 or more yards, the figure drops from 100.0 percent to 94.5 percent -- a 69-of-73 total, including 38-of-42 on those long touchdowns.

In fact, the shakiest range has been after touchdowns of 6 to 9 yards; following those scores, kickers are 42-of-47 (89.4 percent) on their PAT attempts, compared with 40-of-43 (93.0 percent) after 1-yard touchdowns and 52-of-53 (98.1 percent) after touchdowns of 2-5 yards.

Overall, placekickers have hit 134 of 143 attempts (93.6 percent) following offensive touchdowns covering fewer than 10 yards. That percentage increases to 95.7 (89-of-93) after offensive touchdowns of 10 to 29 yards.

Experience is also a factor as teams rely more on kickers playing on their first contract than in past eras.

"Most of the kickers in the league are of the younger category. I think there are not as many veterans as there used to be," said McManus, who is part of the trend.

At the start of the 2009 season, the average age of an NFL placekicker was 31 years, 158 days. This year, it was 28 years, 278 days. There were 12 kickers age 30 or older on rosters to start this season; last year, there were 14. In 2009, there were 20.

Kickers are getting younger, which means they're more inconsistent at the start. Teams must be willing to ride through the mistakes -- and with extra points from 33 yards away, there are more of those than we've seen in a generation.

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