When the line of scrimmage for extra points moved to the 15-yard line in 2015, turning the point after touchdown into a 33-yard attempt, the success rate for kickers was bound to drop.
That has happened across the NFL. In 2014, the last year PATs were booted from the 20-yard line, NFL kickers collectively missed eight extra points in 1,230 attempts.
With a quarter of the season remaining, NFL kickers have missed 54 extra points in 950 attempts.
The Chiefs have contributed to the total with four misses. They’ve occurred in the last five games, including a blocked kick in last week’s victory at Oakland.
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“It’s a 33-yard field goal, which is more challenging than a 20-yard field goal,” Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker said. “I’m not happy with my percentage so far this season, but it’s a blessing to have so many opportunities.”
There have been plenty of those. Because the Chiefs lead the NFL in touchdowns (56), Butker leads the NFL in extra-point attempts and makes. He’s 51 for 55, for 92.7 percent. That ranks 26th in the NFL and is below the league average of 94.3 percent.
The misses haven’t been costly. The Chiefs went 3-1 in those games and weren’t forced to chase points later.
Still, special teams coach Dave Toub wants to see improvement. Asked at what point he becomes concerned with the percentage, Toub said with the next miss.
“If we miss another one that’s not blocked, we’ve got to think about what’s going on there,” Toub said. “But I’m not worried about Butker.”
Better these things happen now than in the playoffs, Toub noted. There’s time to correct mistakes.
This season, Butker has a made a higher percentage of field goals (19 for 20) than extra points. He’s made all five of his field-goal attempts between 30 and 39 yards. Add 55 more attempts from that distance and it’s easy to be less than perfect.
“I’m not giving us any excuses; we want to be 100 percent on those,” Toub said. “But the numbers do catch up with you sometimes.”
Butker made all 28 of his extra point attempts last year, his rookie season. In the first three years of the longer extra point, the Chiefs had missed a total of five extra points, all by former kicker Cairo Santos.
Although the last miss was blocked, Butker said if the snap from James Winchester and hold from Dustin Colquitt are there, the conversion should be made.
“Any missed kick I have I put it on me,” Butker said. “As long as the ball is on the ground, I have to make it. On the block, I could have hit the kick higher. The blame is on me if there’s a miss.”
The rule change came about because extra points were too easy. The NFL success rate hadn’t been lower than 98.1 percent in the previous two decades.
The Chiefs went nine years between missed extra points. Lawrence Tynes missed one in 2006, and the Chiefs didn’t miss another until 2015, the first year of the longer kick, a run of 295 consecutive conversions.
Since going to the longer kick, the rate has been around 94 percent, and even the best in the game have felt the impact. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, who hadn’t missed an extra point in his eight-year career, lost his perfect record (222 straight) with 18 seconds remaining in a one-point loss to the Saints earlier this season.
Entering this week’s games, six teams haven’t missed an extra point. The Chargers lead the NFL with seven misses. They’re not the automatic tack-on point they once were, even for the Chiefs.