Last year, the Minnesota Vikings became an outdoor team for the first time in more than 30 years after their move from the Metrodome to their temporary outdoor stadium at TCF Bank Stadium.
But will the new rules changes on how extra points are administered in the NFL this year give the Vikings an advantage? Extra-point tries will now be placed at the 15-yard line, creating a 33-yard kick for one point, instead of the way they were previously done with the spot at the 2-yard line.
Last year, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was 8-for-10 from 30 to 39 yards but 3-for-3 on kicks of 33 yards. His two misses between 30 and 39 yards came on 38- and 39-yarders, both of which were wide right.
“I think it’s well-known that we send Jeff (Locke, the holder) and Blair down to TCF once a week during the season to get their work in, especially when it gets cold and windy,” Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer told Sirius XM NFL Radio on Wednesday. “So when we go down there on Sundays we want it to be a home-field advantage, where in a dome kind of both teams have a home-field advantage, absent from the crowd. But in terms of the field conditions and kicking conditions, it’s neutral. But when you’re not used to (being outdoors), you’re absolutely right that it’s a distinct advantage for us.”
However, last year, Vikings opponents were 9-for-9 on kicks between 30 and 39 yards, and both of Walsh’s misses in that range were outdoors in November and December – the 38-yarder coming at Soldier Field in Chicago on Nov. 16 and the 39-yarder coming against the New York Jets at TCF on Dec. 30.
“It’s one of those things, we knew it was coming. We’ve talked about it,” Priefer said of the rules change that was approved Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. “Blair and I have discussed it. The special teams coaches have talked about it. Like any other change with the rules, we’re going to embrace it. We’re going to look at it in a positive light and say, ‘You know what? Now we’ve got to go out and make that 33-yard field goal when it’s cold and windy in mid-December at TCF.’ So it makes it a little more challenging but should be fun.”
It seems likely that NFL teams playing in an outdoor game in November and December would be more inclined to go for the two-point conversion – which will still be administered from the 2-yard line – than they might in the first two months of the season with warmer weather.
“It might. You’d have to ask the head coach on the decisions,” Priefer said on Sirius. “I think every head coach is going to be a little bit different on their approach to it. You’re hoping from 33 yards out we’re going to be close to 100 percent, but you never know. It probably goes game by game and it goes back to the dome teams and dome games – I think you’re going to have teams easily go for one rather than two – but mid-December or even mid-November around here when it gets cold and windy it might be easier to go for two than it would be to go for one.
“Blair and I have already starting talking about what hash we want to put the ball on if they’re going to allow us to move the hash like they do on a two-point conversation like I think they will. I have not gotten word on that yet, but that’s something we’ll check on.”
PATs ‘distinct advantage’ for outdoor teams?
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