Here's what we know: There were more missed kicks in Week 5 of the NFL season than in any single week during the past 34 years.
Here's how that makes us feel: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Here's how it should make us feel: Eh.
NFL kicking improved steadily over the past two decades, despite the introduction of rules that make it more difficult. The long upward trend shouldn't allow one week, as shocking as it was, to overwrite years of performance.
In some cases, perceptions have been influenced by the timing of the trouble this season. There have been 11 misses that would have brought a team into a tie or moved it ahead during the final minute of the fourth quarter or in overtime. In other cases, it has been the volume. The Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals, for instance, combined to miss five field goals during the final three minutes of regulation and overtime. A sixth attempt, Mason Crosby's 49-yarder, finally won the game for the Packers.
So let's take a broader look to separate anecdote from trend and better understand what has happened so far this season.
Was it as bad as it looked in Week 5?
For the most part, yes. Kickers missed 14 field goals and 13 extra points. According to NFL Research, that total of 27 was the highest number of combined misses since Week 11 of the 1987 season.
But that gripping data point was driven largely by the extra-point misses. You don't have to go very far to find a worse week for field goals. In Week 5 of the 2019 season, for example, there were 17 missed field goals. In 2018, there were 16 in Week 5. And in both cases, those misses came on fewer attempts than they did this past weekend.
So what's going on with extra points?
We should avoid thinking too deeply about it at this point. (That's easy for most of us!)
In the first four weeks of the season, place-kickers converted 94.4% of their extra points. That's better than the 2020 and 2019 seasons, over the same time period, and right at the league average since the NFL moved extra points from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line in 2015. We should wait to see if the Week 5 downturn continues before worrying too much.