Well, friends, we did it. We have an NFL rule change that actually has had an interesting and (we think) positive effect.
The extra point, once the most non-competitive play in sports, is now a serious adventure in the NFL. How tough? We didn’t even make it out of the first quarter of Sunday’s afternoon game and we already had an NFL record since the 1970 merger — the most extra-point attempts missed in a week with 11. That total grew to 12 after Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins missed one in the fourth quarter of the Redskins’ 42-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
What’s going on here? Yes, the 33-yard try is harder now. But this rash of misses on Sunday has been downright bizarre.
Take the Chicago Bears-New York Giants game. What was going through the head of ex-Bears kicker Robbie Gould (now kicking for the Giants) when he watched his replacement, Connor Barth, botch his first XP try? Of course, what was going through Gould’s head when he too missed his first attempt? Maybe both kickers were affected by the wind at MetLife Stadium, which was cranking over 35 mph at one point.
Then Gould missed another one. That brought the number to eight league-wide. And of course, no mark of futility should not include the Cleveland Browns, so Cody Parkey’s miss made it a stunning nine on the whole. Then we got our record with early misses by the New England Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski and — for the record — Seattle Seahawks’ Steven Hauschka, whose kick was blocked.
In 2014, the season prior to the extra point being lengthened, there was a total of eight misses. All darned season.
Coming into Sunday, there had been a total of 36 failed attempts this season, an average of 3.6 per week. We’re at almost triple that now. The league record for missed extra points in a single week had been 10, set back in 1985, before Sunday. Records, folks, are meant to fall.
Of course, the why is the big mystery. We can only guess. The question now is whether this forces teams to go for two-point conversions when they might not otherwise think about it.
Wind couldn’t be used as an excuse at Ford Field, which has no wind being that it’s indoors. That did not stop both teams’ kickers, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Jason Myers and the Detroit Lions’ Matt Prater, from each missing their first extra-point attempts.
Same up in Minnesota, where Vikings fans had a good time with new kicker Kai Forbath. The replacement for Blair Walsh, who was cut this past week after four XP missed, made his first attempt. It elicited a Bronx-type cheer from the Vikings faithful. But then they saw Forbath’s second attempt get blocked. Sigh.
Heck, none of them have had it worse Sunday than the Cincinnati Bengals’ Mike Nugent, who missed his first two tries of the game. If Adam Vinatieri is missing a field-goal attempt, his first since 2015, maybe these mere mortals are due to miss earlier extra points. Although that doesn’t explain miss-prone Roberto Aguayo going 4 for 4 on field goals and 1 for 1 on an extra points.
Whatever, the NFL is just plain weird sometimes. And we like it.
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