NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick brought back an old talking point Wednesday, saying he wants see the NFL make its extra-point play less of a gimme.
Belichick made his case — again — when asked about special teams and the kicking game during a press conference for his playoff-bound team.
“I personally would love to see the kicking game remain as a very integral part of the game so that the kickoffs are returned and so that extra points are not over 99 percent converted,” he said. “Because that’s not what extra points were when they were initially put into the game back 80 years ago, whatever it was.”
The extra-point conversion rate was 99.6 percent (1,256 for 1,261) this season, according to Pro Football Talk. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski nailed every one of his 44 attempts. He’s only missed one time in 400 career regular-season tries — way back in 2006, his rookie year.
“I would be in favor of not seeing it be an over 99 percent conversion rate,” Belichick said. “It’s virtually automatic. That’s just not the way the extra point was put into the game. It was an extra point that you actually had to execute and it was executed by players who were not specialists, they were position players. It was a lot harder for them to do. The Gino Cappellettis of the world and so forth and they were very good.
“It’s not like it is now where it’s well over 99 percent. I don’t think that’s really a very exciting play because it’s so automatic.”
It’s not a new position for Belichick. He said during a radio interview in 2011 that “non-plays shouldn’t be in the game.”
“Extra points, when you’re up to the 99 percent range in extra points, it’s not a play,” he said at the time. “Let’s move the ball back to the 15, 20 yard line and not make it a tap in. Make them kick it.”
Then there’s the other leg-related issue. The NFL has moved the spot of the kickoff in recent years, resulting in fewer returns.
Commissioner Roger Goodell sparked an intense debate a year ago when he said the league would consider former Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano’s proposal to eliminate kickoffs entirely.
“I don’t know how much excitement there is for the fans in a touchback,” Belichick said Wednesday. “It’s one thing if it’s a great kick, it’s another thing when, let’s just say for example, over half the kicks are out of the end zone, then I wouldn’t really say it’s a great kick. It’s kind of almost a normal part of the game. I personally would love to see those plays be the impact plays that they’ve been.”
Sort of like the 108-yard kickoff return by the Baltimore Ravens’ Jacoby Jones in last year’s Super Bowl.
“I mean forget about who you’re rooting for, but just as a fan of the game, it was a spectacular play in the game that I think all fans – unless you’re a 49er fan, but you know – that all fans objectively love to see those plays as part of the game,” Belichick said.
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