Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Three Questions About The NFL's New Overtime System

So the league appears to finally be changing the overtime rules. At first glance, the proposal is much better than the old sudden death. But then we got to wondering.

Here's the theoretical new system: if the team that wins the coin toss marches down the field and scores a TD, it's over. But if the receiving team gets only a field goal, the other teams gets a shot. If they score six, it's over. If they kick their own field goal, then we go to the old sudden death rules.


It'll come to a vote in league meeting next month, and two-thirds of teams would have to sign off on it. But before then, here are some things we're curious about.

•Why does it have to end when the first team scores a touchdown? Isn't that what everyone hates about the current system? I'm not sure what the percentages are that a team scores a touchdown after receiving a kickoff, but if it's anything more than zero, the team that wins the coin flip still has an advantage.

Why not let the other team try to match the seven points? Yes, like college OT, but beginning with kickoffs so the defenses come into play.

•Why does it have to revert to sudden death if both teams kick field goals? Again, the team that wins the flip has a statistical advantage. It would make much more sense for the rules to remain the same, allowing teams to trade FGs as many times as they have to.


I understand the argument that games are tough on players' bodies, and they don't want it to go too long. Well, that's why overtime is 15 minutes. If teams take turns kicking field goals through OT, then it's a tie. Done. And if players can't find something in the tank for a second overtime period of a playoff game, then they probably don't deserve to win anyway.

•Why is it always about Brett Favre?

The debate about the rules gained steam after the NFC championship game, when New Orleans beat Minnesota 31-28 in overtime and Brett Favre's Vikings never got the ball in the extra period. Under the proposed rule, Minnesota would have gotten another possession because the Vikings didn't allow a touchdown.


Really? We're changing the rules because Favre got screwed? Was the threat of the Colts driving, down 7, with four minutes remaining in the Super Bowl not a little more important than an NFC title game.

Or wait, better, yet, did no one realize that if Santonio Holmes didn't miraculously get both feet in bounds with seconds remaining in the previous Super Bowl, that one's heading to OT?


No, perhaps they needed a concrete example. A playoff game in which the team that won the overtime coin flip drove for the winning score. Well, for that, they would have had to go all the way back to January of 2009, when the Chargers did it against Indy.

But no. None of these, whether they came before or were more important than the Vikings wrongly guessing "heads," were enough to set the wheels in motion. All it took was some Brett Favre butthurt.


NFL may change OT rules for playoffs [AP]

Share This Story