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Why does Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker keep missing extra points?

Harrison Butker is the second-most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history. He’s less than four-tenths of a percentage point behind Justin Tucker. 

But there’s just something about kicking those 33-yard point after attempts that’s caused Butker some issues in 2020. Combining the regular and postseason through the divisional round, Butker’s 49-for-56 on extra points this season. That 87.5 conversion rate is actually worse both than his career field goal percentage (90.3) and his 2020 regular season field goal percentage (92.6).

Lined up on the left hashmark against the Browns in the divisional round, Butker launched his extra point kick after the opening touchdown straight ahead. The only problem? The left hash is wide of the uprights, so Butker had his seventh missed extra point of the season. That broke a tie with Dan Bailey for most missed extra points this season, combining regular season and playoffs.

To add insult to injury, Butker’s lone field goal miss against Cleveland also came from the 33-yard extra point distance. 

Those singular points may not seem like much, especially when Butker can step up later in the same game and drain a field goal from 50 yards out. But there’s no telling when a lone point could make all the difference to the Chiefs in their quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions. So what gives for Butker?

Why does Harrison Butker keep missing extra points?

Prior to Butker’s extra point miss against the Browns, he hadn’t missed one since Kansas City’s Week 10 bye. He’d made his last 21 point afters, about what you’d expect from an all-time great kicker. But that also means he began the season 27-for-33 in that situation, an 81.8 percent rate that wasn’t getting it done.

Extra points have been kicked from the 15-yard line, a 33-yard kick, since 2015. Butker’s rookie season was 2017, and he’d never exhibited these issues before. He was 28-for-28 as a rookie, 65-for-69 (94.2 percent) the next year and 45-for-48 (93.8) in 2019. 

There hasn’t been a lot written about Butker’s early-season struggles that may have temporarily popped up again against the Browns. But in October, Butker commented on the matter.

“Looking back at the tape I think the biggest issue with the PATs, except for one, has been where I’m starting the kick at,” Butker said on Oct. 30, according to Sports Illustrated. “The one in Buffalo was kind of the outlier, I started right and stayed right. But the other ones have all been balls that have been tilling to the left, or even that field goal against the Ravens.”

The Chiefs do have a new holder this year. Punter Tommy Townsend has taken over that role from former punter Dustin Colquitt. Kansas City special teams coordinator David Toub made sure in October to point out that the blame shouldn’t be on Townsend, though, saying “it’s not the issue.”

If there’s reason to be concerned about the divisional round miss against the Browns, it’s that the kick missed to the left. That’s the same problem Butker was having earlier in the year. With his October explanation offering the only insight on the matter, it sounds like simply a case of needing to not let Butker’s aim waver on those 33-yard spot kicks.

“I think I just need to have a good line,” Butker said in October, according to SI. “I need that ball to come out exactly where I’m aiming. Unfortunately, I have missed extra points and a lot of them have been left, but every day I’m trying to get better and obviously trying to get that fixed.”

Harrison Butker stats

Year Field Goals Attempted Field Goals Made Field Goal Percentage Extra Points Attempted Extra Points Made Extra Point Percentage
2017 42 38 90.5 28 28 100
2018 27 24 88.9 69 65 94.2
2019 38 34 89.5 48 45 93.8
2020 27 25 92.6 54 48 88.9
Career 134 121 90.3 199 186 93.5

Note: These are Harrison Butker’s regular season stats from each of his four NFL seasons, along with his career regular season totals, according to Pro Football Reference.

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