NFL Needs More “8-Point Plays”

Prior to 1979, "three-point plays," arising if a player was fouled while concomitantly scoring a basket, were possible in the NBA.

When the three-point basket was introduced in the autumn of 1979, "four-point plays" became possible, if an offensive player was fouled in the act of shooting a three-pointer.

This past Sunday, there were two "8-point plays" in the NFL — both of them successful.

At Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert connected with wide receiver Keenan Allen (who ran a blistering 4.71 on his Pro Day in 2013 after not having run at all at the combine) on an 8-yard touchdown pass — and to add insult to injury for the Titans, Tennessee defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons was flagged for roughing Herbert, placing the ball at the 1-yard line for the ensuing two-point conversion, which was successful in a rare "tackle-eligible" play, with Herbert throwing the ball to Trey Pipkins, who would have lived up to his surname had he asked Herbert to Gimme Dat Ding.

Three hours later at Jerry World, Dak Prescott found rookie tight end Luke Schoonmaker for a touchdown from one yard out — the same spot from which a 2-point conversion was attempted because Jets defensive end Michael Clemons was called for roughing the passer. Tony Pollard scored the deuce on a run.

Under present rules, only a personal foul against the defense on a play upon which a touchdown was scored can give the offense the option of taking half the distance to the goal and going for two.

But what if more such scenarios are added?

The first one that comes to mind is defensive pass interference on a play in which the receiver catches the pass anyway, and it goes for a touchdown. (In cases where there is defensive pass interference and the receiver catches the ball anyway, but does not score, a 15-yard penalty can be added to the catch.)

This would be a logical "quid pro quo" for capping defensive pass interference penalties at 15 yards (and obviously, an automatic first down), with the further stipulation that not only is the game clock reset to the time remaining at the previous snap, but also with the clock being stopped and not re-started until the next snap, even if the clock had been running before the previous snap, thus giving the offense an additional timeout, providing that the play began within the last two minutes of either half, or in overtime, thus preventing the defense from "buying" time off the clock with a deliberate DPI infraction.

And if the NFL can't bring itself to adopting the same 15-yard defensive pass interference penalty that the NCAA went to all the way back in 1984, the least they could do is cap the penalty at half the distance to the goal. (Example: If the ball was on the 50-yard line and pass interference against the defense occurs at the goal line, the ball is spotted at the 25-yard line, with an automatic first down, and the clock reset to the time remaining at the previous snap, and not restarted until the next snap).

The second scenario is unsportsmanlike conduct against the defense on a scoring play — and to "make it fair," if the offense commits a "taunting" infraction after scoring a touchdown, the 15-yard penalty can always be assessed on the extra point, which not only turns the latter into the equivalent of a 50-yard field goal attempt, but essentially rules out any chance of a two-point conversion, since the ball would be placed at the 17-yard line.

What is the NFL afraid of?

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