The NFL's preseason experiment with longer point-after-touchdown attempts may have been just the beginning. The league has begun a multi-year project to examine and encourage 2-point play attempts.
"Let's see more of it," said league vice president of operations Troy Vincent, "because it's an exciting play."
The former All-Pro cornerback has reached out to 140 players, both active and former, for ideas on how to make the play after a touchdown more exciting. Vincent insists he wants to "keep the foot in the game," but he also wants to lessen the rote nature of the point-after-touchdown (PAT) by coming up with ways to entice coaches to go for 2.
The canvassing of players yielded several provocative ideas, including two former stars who suggested placing the ball at the 1-yard line for the 2-point conversion because "more coaches would go for it."
One current starting quarterback got even more creative, lobbing the idea of giving offenses a choice of either going for 2 or backing the line of scrimmage up to the 17-yard line and allowing a possible 3-point conversion.
"Give the QB an option to score 3," the quarterback replied on the questionnaire.
Vincent wants more brainstorming, not only from players but fans. "Our goals were three-fold," he said. "Competitive play for the player, strategic call for the coach and better experience for the fan."
One of the moments that helped give the project momentum was during a Vikings-Cowboys game last year. League officials noticed an extra point went up on the TV scoreboard even before the PAT attempt left Blair Walsh's foot. That was a sign the PAT had become too automatic.
"They put one point on the scoreboard," Vincent said, "and it was a miss. We used that as an example."
There were five missed PATs last season out of 1,267 attempts.
Vincent and others don't want fans leaving for the refrigerator or the restroom (or their smartphones) because nothing exciting happens between a touchdown and the ensuing kickoff.
The league experimented with moving the PAT line of scrimmage back to the 15-yard line during preseason, and although the number of misses nearly tripled from the 2013 preseason, there were still only eight failed attempts out of 141. The PAT is still fairly automatic.
Meanwhile, the number of 2-point attempts in preseason spiked from 20 in the 2013 preseason to 32 this season, according to league statistics.
That's a good tradeoff for Vincent.
"We have to push the game forward without interrupting the integrity of the game," he said. So expect further experimentation and discussion. While some survey respondents didn't want anything changed, most had novel ideas that included narrowing the goal posts, putting the ball on a hash mark for the PAT, and, in that one instance, the 3-point play.
One kicker even came out in favor of adding 5 more yards to the extended PAT, forcing a 38-yard try.
"Physically it's a much more difficult kick," the kicker wrote. "Psychologically, the most difficult kick is the 40-yard extra point."
A lot of fans would stay tuned for that. Even more would want to watch their team go for a 3-point play.
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