What Is a PAT in Football? A Complete Guide to Conversions

A college football kicker attempts a PAT.

There are many ways to score in a football game. There are touchdowns, field goals, safeties, and PATs.

But what exactly is a PAT in football?

A PAT, or point after touchdown, is the extra point(s) attempt in football after a team scores a touchdown. PATs are either a field goal-type kick from the 15-yard line worth one point or a two-point conversion from the two-yard line. Teams usually kick the ball because it has a higher conversion rate.

Throughout this article, we’ll explain what a PAT is, the rules for PATs, and how PATs are scored. We’ll also cover some of the records in the NFL regarding PATs.

What Is a PAT in Football?

A PAT in football is more commonly referred to as an extra point or a try, which a team attempts after scoring a touchdown. There are two types of PATs.

The first is a field goal PAT, which is worth one point. These work like a normal field goal, but they are from a set distance away unless penalties are enforced. In the NFL, a PAT kick is from the 15-yard line.

Kicking PATs is much more common than two-point conversions. Teams almost always go for the one-point kick because they are easier to convert. Since a touchdown is worth six points, and kicking a PAT is worth one, teams often score in seven-point increments.

The other kind of PAT is a two-point conversion. This play is worth two points, and the offense has one try to pass or run the ball into the end zone from the two-yard line.

Teams will almost only go for a two-point conversion if they need two points to tie the game. These plays are harder to score on, which is why they’re worth more.

In both PAT situations, the play ends when the offense scores or the ball is dead. But the defense can also intercept the ball or recover a fumble and run it down the field for two points of their own.

NFL Extra Point Rules

A lot of touchdowns get scored each week in the NFL and therefore a lot of PATs. If you watch even one game a week, you will see a few PATs, and you will get a good understanding of the rules regarding them. Here are the extra point rules used in the NFL according to the NFL rulebook:

During a Try, the following shall apply:

  1. If a kick results in a field goal by the offense, one point is awarded. An artificial or manufactured tee shall not be permitted to assist in the execution of a Try-kick. (The conditions of 11-4-1 must be met.)
  2. If a Try results in a touchdown by either team, two points are awarded.
  3. If the Try results in what would ordinarily be a safety against either team, one point is awarded to the opponent.
  4. If any play results in a touchback, the Try is unsuccessful, and there shall be no replay.
  5. The Try ends when:
    • either team scores;
    • the ball is dead by rule; or
    • a fumble by either team is recovered by a teammate of the fumbling player.

The league implemented these rules before the 2015 season. The kick PAT used to start from the two-yard line, but it is now 13 yards further from the goal line at the 15-yard line.

The 2015 season was also when the league started allowing the defense to return a PAT, whether it’s a one or two-point attempt, for a two-point try of their own. Other leagues have similar PAT rules, which are designed to increase the conversion rate.

Can You Fake a PAT in the NFL?

Yes, you can fake a PAT in the NFL. A team can set up for a one-point PAT kick and then go for two points.

However, if the offense sets up for the kick, they will have to snap the ball at the 15-yard line and make a pass or run into the end zone from there.

The benefit of doing this is that the defense is not expecting it, so the offense will have extra time to run the play as the defense scrambles. The surprise gives the offense some time to make up for the difference in yardage.

How Far Is a PAT in the NFL and College?

The distance that teams have to score a PAT depends on the type of PAT they are going for.

Here are the official NFL rules regarding how far from the goal line a team has to score a PAT:

The Try begins when the Referee sounds the whistle for play to start. The team that scored the touchdown shall put the ball in play:

A. anywhere on or between the inbound lines;

B. 15 yards from the defensive team’s goal line for a Try-kick; or

C. two yards from the defensive team’s goal line for a Try by pass or run

As for college football, they use the same distance for both types of PATs. They set up at the three-yard line for both kicking PATs and two-point conversions.

The one-yard difference in two-point conversions is not a big difference. But the 12-yard difference makes scoring kick PATs much easier in college football.

NFL Extra Point Career Leaders

The players who score the most extra points are kickers because they have an opportunity to score an extra point after nearly every touchdown. Kicking for an extra point happens much more often than teams going for a two-point conversion.

Here are the the top 10 NFL career extra point leaders according to Pro Football Reference:

PlayerCareer Extra Points MadeYears Played
George Blanda9431949-1975
Adam Vinatieri8741996-2019
Morten Andersen8491982-2007
Gary Anderson8201982-2004
Lou Groza8101946-1967
Stephen Gostkowski6992006-2020
Jason Elam6751993-2009
Mason Crosby6682007-2021
Jason Hanson6651992-2012
Norm Johnson6381982-1999

Every player on the top 10 list was a Kicker, except for Blanda, who played QB and kicker. It would be difficult for any player who is not a kicker to make the list of top extra point-getters.

Who Has the Most Extra Points in a Season?

The same kicker usually attempts extra points on each team for the whole season. So, it is easy for one kicker to score a lot of PATs in one season if they have a high success rate, and their team is scoring a lot of touchdowns.

Here are the top 10 NFL seasons extra point leaders according to Football Database:

PlayerExtra Points MadeYear
Matt Prater752013
Stephen Gostkowski742007
Mason Crosby682011
Stephen Gostkowski662012
Uwe Von Schamann661984
Harrison Butker652018
George Blanda641961
Jeff Wilkins641999
John Kasay632011
Mark Moseley621983

Record for PATs Made in a Row

The current record for most PATs made in a row is held by Stephen Gostkowski, who made 523 extra points in a row. He played for the New England Patriots from 2006 to 2019. Of the extra points, 479 were made in regular-season games, and the rest were in playoff games.

His streak started in the 2006 postseason when he was a rookie and lasted for nearly 10 seasons. According to CBS Sports, the streak ended on January 24, 2016, when he missed a kick against Denver in the AFC Championship game.

Before this record, Matt Stover had the most consecutive extra points at 422 in regular-season games. Gostkowski broke Stover’s record in Week 3 of the 2015 season, per ESPN.

Most Extra Points Missed in a Week

While there are records for the most extra points scored, there are also records for the most extra points missed.

The current record for most extra points missed by kickers throughout the whole league in one week is 12.

This record happened twice in the modern NFL era. Once by kickers during Week 5 of the 2021 season and by Week 11 of the 2016 season. Week 5 of 2021 also had 12 missed field goals, so overall not a good week for NFL kickers.

But, in general, teams have a high success rate when scoring extra points.

During the 2020 season, according to Team Rankings, Miami had the highest extra point conversion percentage in the league with a perfect 100%.

During this season, another 25 teams had a success rate of over 90%. The other six teams had an extra point success rate between 80-90%. The two teams with the lowest extra point conversion rates were the New York Jets and the Denver Broncos, with a success rate of 83.33%.

What Is a PAT Worth in Football?

There are two types of PATs that teams can attempt. The first is a field goal-type attempt which is worth one point. A one-point PAT is run just as if a team was attempting a field goal.

The second is a two-point conversion, which is similar to scoring a touchdown. The offense lines up and attempts to run or pass the ball into the end zone, but they only have one chance to do so instead of four downs.

Touchdowns are one of the two most common ways that teams score in football, the other way being a field goal. Touchdowns alone are worth six points, and PATs are worth one or two.

While you can score two points on a PAT, teams often go for only one point since it’s an easier play. The difference in difficulty is why you commonly see teams scoring in seven-point increments and why football games often have scores in multiples of seven.

During the 2020 season, only one team, the Philadelphia Eagles, attempted an average of one two-point conversion per game. On the other hand, Cincinnati didn’t make any two-point conversions during the season. The remaining 30 teams attempted an average between 0 and 1 each game.

So, you can see that two-point PATs are rare. The rarity is partially because two-point conversions are harder to score on and partially that they aren’t necessary for most game situations when the other team is only scoring one-point PATs.

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Steven G.

My name is Steven and I love everything sports! I created this website to share my passion with all of you. Enjoy!

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