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Jake Elliott may drive you nuts sometimes, but he’s a keeper

The Eagles’ clutch kicker nailed another game-winner, but those missed PATs drive everyone nuts.

NFL: Houston Texans at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Elliott’s missed point after attempts are insanely annoying. Jake Elliott’s clutch kicking once again won a ballgame at the gun.

Both are true, but which matters more?

The Philadelphia Eagles’ second-year place kicker hit another game-winner last Sunday, a clutch 35-yard field goal at the gun that beat the Houston Texans 32-30.

Trailing 30-29, Elliott lined it up, drained it right down the middle and averted a loss that would have otherwise ended the Eagles’ playoff hopes. However, as some would note, the Eagles would not have been in a position to lose that game had Elliott not missed an extra point earlier in the contest that left them down a point before his final kick.

We now have enough evidence to say for certain that, for some reason, Elliott has issues making extra points. He’s now missed five extra point attempts in his regular season career and two more in the playoffs and in all has made 69 out of 74, good for a PAT percentage of 93.2%. This year, he has gone 30-for-32 on PATs (93.8%).

Ahead of the 2015 NFL season, officials wanted to make sure those time-consuming, annoying extra point kicks stopped being the automatic waste of time they had become. A missed PAT was akin to a unicorn sprinting across the field. They were so rare as to believe they never happened.

But that rule change turned a gimme 20-yard kick into a 33-yard kick. Certainly both should be virtually automatic, but it has not been so.

In fact, there are only two teams, the Lions and Broncos, that have been perfect in PAs this year. And while the Birds’ overall percentage of 93.7% is tied for 22nd, playoff teams like Seattle, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and the L.A. Chargers all have a lower PAT rate than Philly.

Certainly a 33-yard kick should be successful just about every time, and it’s fair to note that his Week 14 miss against the Dallas Cowboys left the score tied 23-23 at the end of regulation. Instead of winning 24-23, the Eagles were forced to play in OT and eventually lost on that insane Amari Cooper TD catch. And he also had two missed PATs in the postseason last year, in the Divisional Round against the Falcons (the Eagles won 15-10) and in the Super Bowl against the Patriots (which the Eagles WON 41-33).

You certainly don’t want to be giving a point away in what are usually close games, but it helped that, in the Super Bowl at least, Steven Gostkowski also missed an extra point. And last Sunday against the Texans, Houston kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a PAT.

As you can see, these things happen.

So are Jake Elliott’s PAT issues serious enough that the Eagles should look for another kicker this off-season? Absolutely not, especially in light of all the money kicks he’s made in his brief career in Philadelphia.

There was the legend-making 61-yarder against the New York Giants last year in the home opener.

There was the 43-yarder he hit with :22 seconds left in the Eagles’ Week 12 25-22 win over those very same Giants.

And of course, there was his ridiculously clutch 46-yarder with 1:05 left in Super Bowl 52 that pushed the Birds’ lead to 8 points and established that, at worst, the best New England could do was push the Eagles to overtime.

Think about that. A 46-yard field goal - certainly no gimme - in the final minute of the Super Bowl. A kick his team had to have, and Jake Elliott drained it.

In all, he has six game-winning field goals in less than two years with the Eagles, and he’s been better in 2018 than he was last season. In 2017, he struggled with short field goals, missing three from inside 40 yards. So far this year, he’s only missed one chip-shot field goal from inside 40, the rest were all from outside 50 yards.

Perhaps everyone needs to stop thinking of the PAT as an automatic “extra” point. Should he make almost all of them? Sure, but the NFL designed this rule change so that it wouldn’t be automatic. And as we’ve seen this year, it hasn’t been.

If you go looking for a new placekicker this off-season, what guarantees will you have that you’ll find one that can handle the pressure of a field goal with just over a minute remaining in the Super Bowl, or one that can knock down a mid-range kick as time expires with your season on the line?

None. So stick with the guy who makes the money kicks and missed the occasional PAT. After all, it helped win you a Super Bowl last year.

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