NFL notebook: Extra point in peril if Goodell has his way

49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman is carted off the field after an injury against the Seahawks during the second half of the NFC championship game Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014.
49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman is carted off the field after an injury against the Seahawks during the second half of the NFC championship game Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014.
Photo by USA Today Sports
| Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, 9:33 p.m.

The least-exciting play in any NFL game, by far, is the extra point after a touchdown. Blocks almost never happen, and kickers rarely miss.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell understands that, and he told Rich Eisen of the NFL Network that extra points might be removed from the game, in an effort to keep things lively.

“The extra point is almost automatic. I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd (attempts),” Goodell said. “So, it's a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement.”

Goodell explained to Eisen that one proposal he has heard of is to automatically award seven points for a touchdown and allow teams to go for an eighth point with a passing or running play. If the team fails to convert when going for the eighth point, however, they would lose a point, earning six total points for the touchdown. Whether that system is put into place remains to be seen, but Goodell said the league's competition committee continually is assessing changes.

“We often get a lot of ideas that are thrown out, the committee will look at them and decide what is worthy of further consideration,” he said.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said earlier this month that he'd like to see the extra point changed so that conversion is not so automatic.

“I would be in favor of not seeing it be an over 99 percent conversion rate,” he said. “It's virtually automatic. That's just not the way the extra point was put into the game.

“It was an extra point that you actually had to execute, and it was executed by players who were not specialists, they were position players.”

Harvin expected to return

Wide receiver Percy Harvin could be back to practice later this week for the Seahawks and is expected to be available for the Super Bowl.

Harvin missed Sunday's NFC Championship Game win over San Francisco after suffering a concussion a week earlier in the divisional playoff win over New Orleans. Harvin was not cleared by doctors in time to play against the 49ers.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday that Harvin could be cleared in time to practice as early as Wednesday. Carroll said that was based on how Harvin was feeling over the weekend, but there were still “a couple of clearances” needed before he could practice.

Harvin had three receptions against New Orleans before getting hurt late in the first half. It was the second game of the season for Harvin, who had hip surgery in August.

49ers LB tears ACL, MCL

A person with knowledge of NaVorro Bowman's injury said the All-Pro 49ers linebacker has a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee after going down during Sunday's NFC championship loss at Seattle.

The person said Monday that Bowman would have surgery for the ACL tear, but that the MCL likely will heal with rest, and he is expected to be ready for the 2014 season — and “it's not as bad as feared.” The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the team hadn't made a formal announcement regarding results of tests on Bowman's knee.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said after Sunday's 23-17 season-ending loss to the Seahawks that Bowman was believed to have torn his ACL.

The Chiefs' Derrick Johnson was chosen to replace injured Bowman in the Pro Bowl, giving Kansas City nine players in the all-star game.

Title games grab ratings

The NFL conference title games' television viewership was up big from last season.

The Broncos' 26-16 win over New England for the AFC championship averaged 51.3 million viewers Sunday on CBS.

That's up 22 percent from the early game a year ago between San Francisco and Atlanta.

The Seahawks' victory over the 49ers averaged 55.9 million viewers on Fox, up 17 percent from Ravens-Patriots in the late window in 2013.

CBS said Monday that Denver's win had a 28.1 rating and 51 share — the second-highest rating for the AFC game in 17 years, behind a 28.3 for Jets-Steelers in 2011. Seattle's victory drew a 28.5/44, the highest-rated non-overtime NFC game since 1997.

Ratings measure the percentage of households with televisions watching a program, while shares represent the percentage of TVs in use at the time.

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