It’s known by many names, the PAT (point after touchdown), conversion attempt, try, extra point, and most likely a few more. The extra point kick though has a history that dates back to the earliest days of American football. It actually is one of the current game’s closest ties to the sports of soccer and rugby.
In the early days of football, the conversion was more important than the touchdown. Rules varied by league, but usually one point was given for the touchdown, four points for the conversion, and five point for a field goal. Shortly after 1900, American football began to value the touchdown more and the point scores were reversed with touchdowns being worth five points and extra points being worth just one. It wasn’t until 1912 that touchdowns were increased to their current six point value. Interestingly, the Canadian Football League (CFL) didn’t raise the value of touchdowns to six points until 1956.
Here are some more little known facts about football’s extra point kick:
-The CFL and most American college football leagues allow for a missed PAT attempt to be returned by the defense for a possible two point score. Only two states, Texas and Massachusetts, also play by these rules allowing the defensive team to score two points on an extra point attempt.
-No player has led the league in the PAT category more seasons than George Blanda. Blanda kicked more PATs than anyone else in the league eight times during his career (1956, 1961-62, 1967-69, 1972, 1974). Blanda also attempted more PATs than anyone else in NFL history (959).
-The most PAT attempts ever attempted in a season is 74, this was done by Stephen Gostkowski, the kicker for the New England Patriots in 2007.
-In a 1966 game against the New York Giants, Washington Redskins kicker Charlie Gogolak attempted ten PATs which is the record for most attempts in one game. Gogolak is tied with two other players (Pat Harder and Bob Waterfield) for most made PATs in a game with nine.
-In the National Football League, an extra point attempt is required after every touchdown scored, even when time has run out in the fourth quarter, except for when it is scored in overtime and ends the game as part of the sudden death rule. This sometimes results in an extra point attempt being kicked with no time on the clock and the outcome of the game already decided. This because playoff position and end of year standings tiebreakers are often decided upon using the statistic of points scored.