Navigating the Record Books: Most Missed PATs in a Football Game

John Rizzo

Most Missed PATs in a Football Game

In the fast-paced and high-stakes world of American football, every point counts. While touchdowns capture the glory, it’s the seemingly routine Point After Touchdowns (PATs) that can turn the tide of a game. 

But what happens when these apparently straightforward kicks go awry? Join us on a journey through the annals of football history as we delve into a remarkable, albeit often overlooked, record – the most missed PATs in a single NFL game.

From nail-biting contests to unexpected underdog victories, missed PATs have played a pivotal role in shaping the outcomes of games. 

We’ll explore the stories behind these unforgettable moments, the impact they’ve had on players and teams, and the lessons they offer about the importance of consistency and precision in a kicker’s role. Stay focused. 

What Is the PATs in a Football Game?

PATs, or Point After Touchdowns, are a crucial element in American football games. They follow a touchdown, which is when a team successfully carries or passes the ball into the opponent’s end zone, earning them six points. 

After a touchdown, the scoring team has the option to attempt a PAT to gain an additional point.

During a PAT attempt, the offense lines up close to the opponent’s end zone. 

The most common method involves the kicker attempting a field goal, typically from a short distance (usually the 2-yard line), while the holder ensures a clean snap and the kicker’s accuracy. 

If the kick goes through the uprights, the team earns one extra point.

Teams can also opt for a two-point conversion instead of a traditional PAT. In this scenario, they attempt to score from the 2-yard line in one play, usually with a pass or run. Success grants them two additional points.

PATs are essential for teams to extend their lead, tie the game, or secure a victory, making them a critical aspect of football strategy.

What Happens If A Player Misses PATs in Football?

What Happens If A Player Misses PATs in Football

When a player misses a PAT (Point After Touchdown) in football, several outcomes can occur:

No Points Scored

If the kicker fails to successfully kick the ball through the uprights during a PAT attempt, the team does not earn any additional points. 

This means that the team’s total score remains unchanged, and they only receive the points earned from the touchdown (typically 6 points).

Lost Opportunity

Missing a PAT represents a missed opportunity to add an extra point to the team’s score, which can be crucial in close games. 

In high-stakes situations, such as tie games or situations where a team is trailing by one point, a missed PAT can be particularly costly.

Momentum Shift

A missed PAT can shift the momentum of the game. It can deflate the confidence of the team that failed to convert while providing a boost to the opposing team, which may feel they have a chance to overcome the deficit.

Strategic Considerations

Coaches may adjust their strategies based on the success or failure of PAT attempts. 

For example, if a team repeatedly misses PATs, they might choose to attempt two-point conversions (worth 2 points) instead in future scoring situations.

Factors Contributing to Missed PATs

Factors Contributing to Missed PATs

Several factors can contribute to missed PATs (Point After Touchdowns) in football:

Distance and Angle

PAT kicks are taken from a relatively short distance (usually the 2-yard line), but even a short distance can become challenging due to the angle. Kickers need to adjust their aim to compensate for the angle.

Weather Conditions

Weather elements like wind, rain, or snow can significantly affect the trajectory and accuracy of the kick. Strong crosswinds can push the ball off course, making it difficult for kickers to predict the path.

Snap and Hold Quality

A clean snap from the long snapper and a stable hold from the holder is essential for a successful PAT. Any mishandling or errors in this process can disrupt the kicker’s timing and accuracy.

Kicker’s Skill and Technique

The kicker’s skill level and technique play a significant role. Inconsistent form or timing can lead to missed kicks. Kicker fatigue or pressure situations can also impact performance.

Defensive Pressure

Occasionally, defensive players may attempt to block the PAT kick. The presence of aggressive defenders rushing the kicker can add pressure and distractions, making it more challenging to execute a successful kick.

Mental Pressure

The importance of PATs should not be underestimated. The pressure to secure the extra point in critical situations can affect a kicker’s mental state and focus, leading to missed attempts.

Field Conditions

The condition of the field, including the quality of the turf or grass, can influence a kicker’s ability to plant their foot firmly and make a clean kick. Uneven surfaces may introduce unpredictability.

All these factors can combine to create a challenging environment for PAT attempts, and kickers must navigate these variables to maintain a high success rate in converting PATs.

The Agony of a Missed PAT in American Football

The Agony of a Missed PAT in American Football

The agony of a missed PAT (Point After Touchdown) in American football can be a defining moment in a game, both for individual players and the team as a whole. 

Here’s a closer look at the emotional and strategic impact of a missed PAT:

Lost Points

The most immediate and obvious impact is the loss of an additional point that a team could have earned after scoring a touchdown. In close games, a missed PAT can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Momentum Shift

Football games often hinge on momentum, and a missed PAT can disrupt a team’s momentum and confidence. It can deflate the scoring team while energizing the opponent, creating a psychological shift in the game.

Increased Pressure

When a team misses a PAT, the pressure mounts for the remainder of the game. Players may feel added stress to make up for the lost point, potentially leading to rushed decisions and mistakes.

Coaching Decisions

Coaches may need to adjust their strategies based on missed PATs. In some cases, they might choose to go for two-point conversions (worth 2 points) instead of attempting PAT kicks in subsequent scoring situations.

Individual Impact

The kicker, holder, and long snapper often bear the brunt of the emotional burden when a PAT is missed. They may feel responsible for letting the team down and may struggle to regain their confidence.

Fan Reaction

Fans play a significant role in the emotional landscape of football, and they can be both supportive and critical. Missed PATs can lead to frustration and disappointment among fans, which can further affect players’ morale.

Potential Game Changer

In critical moments of a game, a missed PAT can change the strategy for the remaining time. Teams trailing by one point may have to push harder for a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal.

The agony of a missed PAT in American football extends beyond just the loss of a point. 

It influences the mental and emotional aspects of the game, can lead to strategic adjustments, and has a ripple effect on players, coaches, and fans alike.

Players with the Most Missed PATs in a Football Game

Players with the Most Missed PATs in a Football Game

Historically, kickers who have struggled with PATs may see their statistics stand out, but this can vary widely by season and individual performance. Factors like weather conditions, player form, and team strategies also play a role in missed PATs.

It’s important to check the most up-to-date NFL statistics or news sources for current information on players with the most missed PATs in any given season, as the rankings can change over time.

Player NameNumber of Missed PATs
Brett Maher4
Matt Gay3
Stephen Gostkowski3
Ka’imi Fairbairn3
Cody Parkey3
Joey Slye3
Dan Bailey2
Zane Gonzalez2
Brandon McManus2
Michael Badgley2

Which Player Has Missed the Most PATs in an NFL Game?

Brett Maher of the Dallas Cowboys is indeed the only kicker in NFL history to have missed more than three PATs in a single NFL game. This unique and unfortunate record occurred during a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills on November 28, 2019. Here’s an elaboration on this historical event:

Record-Breaking Performance

Brett Maher’s performance in the November 2019 game against the Buffalo Bills is notable for its rarity and historical significance. His struggles with PAT attempts in that game made headlines across the NFL.

Four Missed PATs

In that particular game, Brett Maher missed four PATs, which is an extraordinarily high number for any professional kicker. 

PATs are typically considered routine kicks for NFL kickers, making this performance particularly surprising.

Impact on the Game

Maher’s missed PATs had a significant impact on the outcome of the game. The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Buffalo Bills by a score of 26-15. Had Maher converted those four missed PATs, the game could have had a different result.

Career Implications

Maher’s performance in that game raised questions about his reliability as a kicker for the Dallas Cowboys. 

While he had shown the ability to make long-field goals during his career, his struggles with PATs became a point of concern for the team and its fans.

Subsequent Actions

Following this game, the Dallas Cowboys decided to release Brett Maher, ending his tenure with the team. The team cited the inconsistent performance, including the missed PATs, as a factor in their decision.

Lessons Learned

Maher’s record-breaking performance serves as a reminder of the importance of consistency in a kicker’s role. 

While long-field goals may garner attention, PATs are fundamental to a team’s success, and missing multiple PATs in a single game can have severe consequences.


Which NFL player holds the record for the most missed PATs in a single game?

Brett Maher of the Dallas Cowboys holds the record for the most missed PATs in a single NFL game, with four missed attempts in a game against the Buffalo Bills in November 2019.

Why are missed PATs considered significant in football games?

Missed PATs are significant because they result in the loss of an extra point, potentially impacting the outcome of a game. They can affect a team’s momentum, strategy, and player confidence.

How common are missed PATs in NFL games?

Missed PATs are relatively rare in the NFL due to the skill level of professional kickers. Kickers are expected to make PATs consistently, making any missed attempts a notable event.

Can weather conditions affect the likelihood of missed PATs?

Yes, weather conditions, particularly wind, can significantly impact PAT accuracy. Strong crosswinds, rain, or snow can make it challenging for kickers to predict the ball’s trajectory, increasing the likelihood of missed attempts.

What are the consequences for kickers who consistently miss PATs?

Kickers who consistently miss PATs may face increased scrutiny, lose their jobs, or see a negative impact on their career prospects. The importance of PATs in NFL games means that reliability in this area is crucial for kickers.

Wrapping Up

As we conclude our exploration of the most missed PATs in a football game, it’s clear that these seemingly routine plays have the power to transform the course of a game and leave a lasting mark on players and fans alike. 

They serve as a reminder that in the world of sports, no detail is too small, and every point matters. 

From Brett Maher’s historic four misses in a single game to the broader implications for teams, the story of missed PATs underscores the drama, unpredictability, and significance of football. 

So, the next time you watch a kicker lineup for a PAT, remember that even the simplest of plays can hold the potential for both triumph and heartache in the world of football. Best of luck. 

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John Rizzo

I am a professional rugby player in the Washington DC-Baltimore area. I have been playing rugby for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to play in many different countries. I am also a coach for both youth and adult rugby teams. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Sports Management and Marketing. I am currently working on my MPA from American University and plan to pursue this career path after graduating next year. LinkedIn