So after reading an article by Yahoo! Sports Jason Cole I just became annoyed. Now I have no problem with opinion as long as it is valid, but for Jason Cole to say that we need to eliminate the PAT (Point After Touchdown) from NFL games, I am flabbergasted. Normally I find Jason Cole’s article interesting and very insightful, he is a very intelligent man. This article though, made little to no sense. Cole wrote this all in retrospect of Rob Gronkowski breaking his arm during a late PAT in the Patriots lopsided victory. He points out that it was a pointless injury to a key player in the Pats offense and yes it is a painful injury, but there are key things Mr. Cole is missing here of great importance.
Cole uses the stat that since 2009 only 22 of 3,186 extra points have been missed or blocked. and of the 22 missed PATs only 3 of them had an impact on the games final score. Yes those numbers are quite gaudy and do help him make a case, yet his case is made invalid by a single play in the history of the NFL…
John Carney, a very effective kicker, missed this extra point and LOST the game for the Saints after an amazing miracle play to even give the Saints a chance. This single play alone destroys Jason Cole’s argument. In fact take his 2009 stats he uses. In 3.186 PAT attempts how many injuries have happened? How many were season ending or placed a player on injured reserve? How many were starters? I feel like the only player that any of us know since 2009 that has been injured during a PAT is in fact, Rob Gronkowski.
The whole point is that a SINGLE point matters a lot. While he says that only 3 since 2009 have truly cause any change to the possible outcome and this is true, just think of a team that won 24-23 or 17-16 or 10-9 missed one of those PATs? The importance is there like it or not.
My issue as a whole is built around the attempt to dislodge special teams from football. Why stop at the PAT? Why do we need kick-offs, punts and long distance field goals? Why the hell do we need f–king kickers? Where do you stop at taking special teams out? You then also lose a long snapper and a lot of back-ups who mostly play on special teams. PATs are just as important as 1st and 10.
Jason Cole seems to forget that PATs also keep a kicker fresh and from getting locked up. Even if the PAT is just a confidence builder (which it can be) for a kicker throughout a game, that can make vast difference in a 50-yard field goal to tie or win the game. Confidence is key at all positions, but the kicker is right up there with the quarterback for how much it affects them. The kickers job is the most volatile job in the NFL. You miss one kick (Billy Cundiff recently) and you get cut. Yes Cundiff got another job, but it doesn’t matter how effective a kicker you are, you can get cut at anytime. Just ask Mike Vanderjagt.
The PAT is so significant and despite the high numbers and stats Mr. Cole uses he is still blind to the facts. In a game where a team wins by a single point, one extra point mattered. Go through games since 2009 and I guarantee you can find one. Hell I can point out the Browns defeating the Chargers 7-3 earlier this year and say simply, what if the Browns miss that PAT and the Chargers only need a field goal from Novak to have a chance to go to overtime? What about games where a team is down 7, scores a TD and lines up for the PAT thus giving the opposing team a chance to block it and end the game.
It is called drama and the most nerve racking parts of a game are the field goals, be it a PAT or a 46-yard field goal, not much is as terrifying to fans, coaches and players at the same time. While I understand Jason Cole’s stance and value his actually getting evidence (round of applause) to support his claim, a single player, no matter how important, getting injured is just part of the game. What if Gronkowski gets injured during a 3rd and 25 rushing play? The chances on that are very low of converting a 1st down, but because it is an offensive play instead of a PAT it has more importance? No.
The PAT is important, no matter what the stats or numbers say and eliminating it from play is both not possible and ignorant. Maybe one day writers will stop treating kickers and punters like second class citizens and treat them as they are, important. Without kickers and punters the game is a boring exchange of offense on the 20-yard line. Punters can change a game (ex: Shane Lechler) and kickers can give you the ability to score from longer distances (ex: Sebastian Janikowski). Without them you lose a lot of the excitement of football and without them, we lose some of the most important players in the game.