By Chris Schisler
NFL Overtime doesn’t need a change but it should change anyway
The Buffalo Bills lost a heartbreaking playoff game to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The game went into overtime. Patrick Mahomes got the ball first and took his team the distance. There was no opportunity for a Bills counterstrike, Josh Allen didn’t get the ball. Of course, this game was played by the rules, yet we can forgive the Bills Mafia if they believe the rules should be tinkered with.
It’s not necessarily unfair. Overtime technically works as it is. If you play defense and get a stop you’re actually at an advantage. After the stop you’ll get better field position and then you just need a field goal. The problem is when you get to a situation like the NFL had at the end of the divisional round, it doesn’t feel fair. Everyone watching knew the team that won the coin toss was winning the game. The coin flipped the Chiefs way and made Josh Allen’s and Gabriel Davis’s masterful performances a moot point.
College football overtime is a fun alternative. In this scenario, each team gets a possession at the 25-yard line, right outside of the red zone. Whoever is ahead at the end of the untimed period wins. If the teams match scores, we go into double overtime and so on and so on. This is an entirely different experience and nobody is leaving without touching the ball in overtime. It takes away the who question of “But what if the other team won the coin toss?”
Change already happened, now go all the way there:
The league already changed the sudden death rules once, so it’s not like we have to abide by the rules that won the Baltimore Colts a championship when Alan Ameche scored the first sudden-death touchdown. Once they took a field goals power away on the first overtime possession, by not allowing it to decide the game, the NFL acknowledged an overtime dilemma. They chose a half measure.
Changing the rules to give both teams a guaranteed possession would have given us what we wanted, more of that incredible game. If the Bills had a chance to respond to the Chiefs touchdown, we wouldn’t be debating the all-mighty power of a coin flip. No football fan would have anything to bicker about, they’d get a satisfying process, even if it wasn’t the outcome they were pulling for.
The Bills tempted fate. They asked for this. Buffalo saw fire, touched fire, and learned it hurt. They asked for this when they gave up two Chiefs scores in less time than it takes to read this blog post. They had a lead with 13 seconds. Buffalo had a lead with 13 seconds and they lost. You can argue they lost fair and square. Letting the game get tied at all with 13 seconds is unforgivable.
The fact that this game shouldn’t have gone into overtime in the first place doesn’t mean it didn’t point out a problem. The team that wins the toss usually wins. If the idea is starting a brand new football game, why should either team get a huge advantage? The NFL official basically said that they were starting a new game. Getting the ball at the beginning of the game or after halftime is monumentally different than getting the ball to start overtime.
The Bottom Line on NFL Overtime:
Seeing what is essentially a shootout between Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes would have been the most compelling television in human history. You were already at the edge of your seat. The game was an instant classic, imagine what using the college overtime rules would have added to the enjoyment of the game. It would have been the most interesting moment in the history of the NFL playoffs.
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The NFL added a Monday night wild card game for entertainment purposes, not a football purpose. They already like this line of thinking. Overtime doesn’t need a change, however changing it could make it a better version of free football. In my personal opinion, there’s nothing more entertaining in sports than College Football overtime. The NFL should do this. They won’t, but they should.