NFL happy with more scoring, close games

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell listens during a press conference after the NFL owners meetings, Wednesday, Oct. 17, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

New York (AP) — Plenty of scoring and close games are good for business in the NFL.

Teams are scoring at a record pace. The number of points (4,489), touchdowns (504) and touchdown passes (328) are the most in league history through six weeks.

And, games are coming down to the end.

Sixty-nine percent of all games (64 of 93) have been within one score in the fourth quarter. A total of 54 games have been decided by one score — eight points or less. That’s tied for the most in league history at this point. There have been 28 games decided by three points or fewer, second-most at this point. At least one game has reached overtime the first six weeks for the first time since extra time was instituted in 1974.

“I don’t think there has been a better time to be an NFL fan,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday. “The quality of the games and the enjoyment that comes with that, I hear it from the fans all the time — that is No. 1 for them. From our standpoint, we look at this as a great moment for us, the tremendous growth and the tremendous popularity of our game.”

One of the key factors contributing to the scoring output is the emphasis on calling defensive holding penalties. The total is up to 36 from 11 through six weeks last season. The increase in roughing-the-passer penalties and eliminating use of the helmet to initiate hits are also important factors.

League officials also point to an influx of talented young quarterbacks. However, scoring could taper off once defenses make adjustments and weather could affect games later in the season.