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NFL kickers are really struggling; new PAT rule to blame?

NFL kickers are struggling at an alarming rate. Is the new PAT rule to blame?

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Nugent has had one of the best careers any Bengals kicker has ever had, and yet, he's having another slow regular-season start.

Last year, Nugent missed six field-goal attempts in Cincinnati's first five games, including a 36-yarder that would have beaten the Panthers in overtime. He was able to overcome his poor start and converted 16 of his next 17 attempts that season, including a 57-yarder against the Colts in the playoff game.

This year, Nugent has already missed a 36-yarder against the Chargers in what was a 24-19 win that saw San Diego have the ball in the final minutes with a chance for the game-winning score. Had Nugent converted the chip-shot, the Chargers would have need a touchdown and two-point conversion just to tie the game.

Against the Chiefs, Nugent missed a 44-yard attempt and finished without a made field goal. He's now 3-for-5 this season with both misses being under 45 yards while also having a PAT blocked.

The good news for Nugent is that even good kickers around the NFL are struggling this year, and it may be due to the new PAT rules, which have made what was supposed to be a chip-shot a more stressful situation, as former NFL kicker Jay Feely said:

Feely believes the pressure put on kickers to keep converting 100-percent of extra points is affecting their rhythm for the rest of their field-goal attempts. It seems kind of silly for that to be such an issue for professional kickers, but it's safe to say that is the case with some NFL kickers after the first four weeks of this season.

Week 4 was especially brutal for kickers around the league as several missed attempts that ultimately changed the outcome of their games. The Steelers' Josh Scobee missed two field goal tries (49 and 41 yards) late in regulation of Thursday night’s overtime loss to the Ravens, before being replaced and cut on Saturday.

The Vikings' Blair Walsh missed a 38-yard field goal in the first half of a three-point loss to the Broncos. The SaintsZach Hocker missed a 30-yard field goal at the end of regulation Sunday night, leading to an overtime period in which New Orleans was still able to beat the Cowboys. The Eagles' Caleb Sturgis missed a 33-yard field goal and an extra point in a three-point loss at Washington.

No kicker has had a worse two-week stretch than that of the BuccaneersKyle Brindza. He missed two field goals and an extra point in his team's 37-23 loss to the Panthers this Sunday. The previous week, Brindza missed one extra point, a 41-yard field goal, a 33-yarder and a 57-yarder in a 10-point loss to the Texans. The JaguarsJason Myers missed a 53-yard attempt at the end of regulation and a 48-yarder in overtime in a three-point loss to the Colts.

According to's Kevin Patra, NFL kickers are 198 out of 237 field goal attempts this season (83.5 percent), which would be lowest field goal percentage since 2011 (82.9 percent) if the season ended today.

You hate to see games being decided by a missed kick, but at least to this point, the Bengals have not been a victim of such through four games. What's typically a team-game, kickers are essentially on their own when making and missing kicks, making the blow even harder when a loss is placed on a missed kick.

Regardless, Nugent can't continue missing field goals at the rate he has this season, or, as has been the case around the league, it may start negatively impacting the Bengals.