It was once voted as being “the most boring play in football.” Yes, I’m talking about the Point After Touchdown (PAT), also known as the “Extra Point.”
When I first started playing real football, and the APBA Football Game, the goal post was located on the goal line. With the ball being placed at the 2-yardline, and the kicker a mere seven yards (at that time) behind the line of scrimmage, the kick only had to travel a total of nine yards to make it through the goal post. No wonder it was so boring. In fact, even a decent kicker on a high school team had no difficulty making that kick.
As a side note, I remember one year our kicker missed two Extra Points because he kicked the ball UNDER the crossbar. He didn’t get the ball high enough, and it just went under it. The OPPOSING coach was furious. He yelled at his players because the ball barely went over their heads, and anyone could have easily blocked it. The issue was that every one of them were treating the play as being so routine that they weren’t even trying. That’s why they got chewed out. The Extra Point was really a big waste of time.
In any case, continuing with our brief history lesson, in the 1974 NFL season the goal posts were moved back ten yards to the end line. This move wasn’t really intended to make the kick harder. It was actually intended to protect the players as many of them had been injured crashing into the stanchion holding the goal post up. As a Wide Receiver, I remember often trying to use the stanchions as a sort of “pick play” to get away from the pass defender. So, even though the NFL had moved the goal post, the success rate for the Extra Point was still phenomenally high.
The NFL rules stayed the same until the 2015 season. This time, it wasn’t the goal post that was moved; it was the yard line that changed. The new rules called for the ball to be placed at the 15-yard line, instead of the 2-yard line. Adding the extra 13 yards seemed to make a difference. For example, in the 2014 season, only 8 PATs were missed all year. That’s a 99.3 success rate. (NFL kickers are really good.) But, in 2015, the first year of the new rule, 71 PATs were missed. That translates to a 94.2 success rate. That’s exactly what the NFL wanted.
So, how does this affect the APBA game? Well, I’ll go over that in the following paragraphs.
When the new rules went into effect, we were waiting to see what APBA would do. I was certain that APBA would need to change their game boards. But, I was wrong. They didn’t take that approach. Instead, APBA approached this situation from an entirely different perspective. When they didn’t change the boards, I was certain that they would make the game player use the 33-yard line for the Extra Point. After all, it would only make sense. But, I was wrong again as that didn’t happen, either.
So, what did they do, you ask? They changed the cards. Some kickers, for example, were able to hit long field goals, with a very high rate of success, but for some reason, the same kickers had trouble making the now 33-yard Extra Point. It was really difficult for APBA to make a good kicking card with so many variables. So, APBA did something really clever. The kept the Extra Point Chart, but some kickers, who had some unique kicking stats, are made to use one of the other columns to determine Extra Points. So, if they are attempting a Field Goal, then they would use their traditional K-column to determine the outcome of the kick. But, if they were attempting an Extra Point, then either the R-column or the P-column would be used. To me, it was a stroke of genius. By using a separate column, the Field Goal and the Extra Point stats can be accurately accomplished. Keep in mind many kickers also use one of the other columns for their Kick Offs, as well. So, many kickers use all three columns.
On occasion, you will even see a kicker with TWO cards. Why? There are actually several reasons. That kicker may also be the back-up punter, or he could have thrown a pass or run with the ball on a Fake Kick. With two cards, the player could have as many as six columns to work with.
I’m very impressed with how APBA has approached this. To test it out—because that’s what I do–I took five different kickers and had them try Field Goals and Extra Points, and the stats were incredibly close to real life. They sold me with their accuracy.
As a last point, I wanted to mention this. Don’t think that all kickers will all have these special columns, however. I don’t know APBA’s formula for making cards, but some stats can apparently work fine by simply using the K-column for both Field Goals and Extra Points, while others need two. In fact, the majority of the cards don’t require a separate column for Extra points and Field Goals. So, until you get the hang of all of the ratings, just double check that you are using the appropriate column for the kick that the player is making.