Floundering kickers under spotlight after new rules

Mon Oct 5, 2015 1:28am EDT
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(Reuters) - The task of a kicker in the National Football League (NFL) has become considerably more challenging this season, and the floundering early results have affected game outcomes and job security.

When the NFL implemented a rule change in advance of this season that added 13 additional yards to an extra point attempt, it vowed to add excitement to a routine act.

What the league may not have anticipated is that kickers would so routinely crack under the added pressure of a 33-yard boot.

Entering Week Four of play, a total of 13 extra point attempts had already been missed, which was four more misfires than all of last year.

The trend of inaccuracy has seemingly crept into field goals as well and players are paying the price for their wayward kicks.

Just this past week, the Houston Texans cut kicker Randy Bullock while the Pittsburgh Steelers sent Josh Scobee packing following his dreadful performance in the team's 23-20 overtime loss to Baltimore on Thursday.

Scobee set the tone for a wayward NFL week when he missed a pair of field goals in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter that led to the Steelers' demise.

Sunday's action followed suit as several games were decided by errant kicks.

New Orleans nearly had their first victory of the campaign snatched away when kicker Zach Hocker hit the upright on a potential game-winner in the final seconds, but the Saints recovered to beat Dallas 26-20 in overtime.   Continued...

Sep 20, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Houston Texans kicker Randy Bullock (4) kick a field goal in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium.  Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports