Fifteen yards

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NFLKickerSnowYep, fifteen yards.

That’s how far back the NFL last week agreed to move extra-point kicks, resulting in what will be 33-yard point-after-touchdowns beginning with the 2015 season.

The league hopes this extra distance for extra points makes the ho-hum play a little more exciting, keeping your eyes glued to the TV and delaying your trip to the ‘fridge and/or the bathroom just a few more seconds.
NFL kickers are deadly accurate, and an extra 15 yards shouldn’t make a difference, right?

Right.

Unless until you consider games in November, December and January for cold weather teams like the Giants, Jets, Packers, Bills, Bears and Steelers. And don’t forget the Vikings, who have one more season of outdoor home games before moving into a new dome.

Giants’ kicker Josh Brown talked last week about the rule change and potential problems caused by bad weather, particularly wind.

I asked Brown through Twitter if wind, rain or snow provided the most challenge for NFL kickers. He replied:

Brown responded quickly, which gave me the confidence to poll a few other NFL kickers through Twitter. This will be great, I thought, to get thought from the pros about kicking extra points from an increase distance in bad weather conditions.

As Phil Collins once sang, “No reply at all.”

But Alex Marvez at FOX Sports – he somehow is better connected than The Rainout Blog – spoke Brown and Vikings kicker Blair Walsh, getting their perspectives on kicking, in general and longer PATs, in adverse weather conditions. Below are quotes from the kickers about various conditions.

Brown on kicking in rain and wind:

“Rain makes the ball heavier. If you hit the ball well, it flies perfectly straight. Wind causes the biggest amount of changes.”

Walsh on kicking in frigid temperatures:

“If the ball is overly cold or overly inflated it does not go as far in cold weather. It’s sort of a running joke that once you hit below about 32 degrees as a kicker expect to hit it five or six yards less on anything whether it’s a kickoff or deep field goal.

“If you have two specialists who are used to kicking outside in those conditions, those late-game, 33-yard extra points to tie (the score) at 21 are going to be a positive for us and a disadvantage for a team like Atlanta or Indianapolis who play in a dome.”

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