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How Many Extra Point Kicks are Missed on Average in the NFL?

Usually a foregone conclusion, the Extra Point or Point After Touchdown (PAT) is considered by many little more than afterthought. In fact, famed coach Bill Belichick had this to say about the PAT:

"Philosophically, plays that are non-plays shouldn’t be in the game. I don't think it is good for the game. Extra points, when the odds are in the 99 percent range in extra points it is not a play.”

The point of this article is not to discuss the merits of extra point and whether or not it should be included in the game but to look at the statistics behind this point.

We decided to look at 22 seasons of data to see if Belichick was right about extra point efficiency.

The Extra Point Attempt from 1990-2011

From the 1990 to 2011 seasons, 22 seasons in total, there were 23,684 extra point attempts during the regular season. Of these, a total of 23,325 were successfully made for a league wide extra point efficiency rating of 98.48%.

In total, only 359 times has a Kicker missed the point after touchdowns. Breaking this number down further, we found that 103 were blocked while kickers missed 256 straight out.

Rounding up, it appears that Belichick was dead on.

Most Missed Extra Point Attempts in a Single Season

Between 1990 and 2011, the greatest number of extra point attempts missed by a team in a single season is 5 missed point after touchdowns – the 1991 Houston Oilers went 41 of 46 (89.1%).

The worst season performance by a team from a extra point efficiency standpoint goes to the 1993 Cincinnati Bengals who only hit 81.3% of their point after touchdowns going 13 for 16. These were all pure misses too as they weren’t blocked on any occasion.

When Extra Point Misses Matter

Bill Belichick might be right in that extra point attempts are non-plays and should be out of the game and he likely won’t find a bigger supporter than kicker John Carney. For it was John Carney and the 2003 New Orleans Saints that missed the playoffs because of a missed extra point attempt.

The Saints entered Week 16 of the 2003 season with a 7-7 record facing off against the 4-10 Jacksonville Jaguars. Nearing the end of the game with the Jaguars holding a 20-13 lead the Saints were down to their last chance with seven seconds remaining on their own 25 yard line.

In what would be known as the River City Relay, the Saints QB Aaron Brooks tossed the ball 42 yards down field to Donte Stallworth, who then lateralled the ball to Michael Lewis, who then lateralled the ball to Duece McAllister, who then lateralled to Jerome Pathon who after receiving the ball at the Jaguars 24 yard line rushed the ball into the end zone setting up the game-tying extra point.

Kicker John Carney lined up the all but assured point after touchdown attempt and upon the snap hit a dead push with the ball missing the uprights wide right. The Saints lost the game 20-19 and were eliminated from playoff contention.

So even though it’s often a non-play and it should be hit every time, sometimes the extra point is missed and sometimes it can have disastrous consequences. 

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