It’s time to correct the NFL’s overtime rule

By on January 29, 2019

On Sunday Jan. 20, the NFL most definitely reigned supreme for sports viewers nationwide, with the NFC and AFC championship games both earning impressive TV rating gains when compared to the conference title matches from last year.

According to Dominic Patten of deadline, the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints’ game collected 44.08 million viewers on FOX, which was a 13 percent increase from the year prior.

In the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs game, 53.9 million people watched on CBS which was a 27 percent increase. In fact, this game became the second most watched AFC championship game in the last 42 years.

A possible reason why the ratings were higher this year was because of the overtime finishes in both the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Arrowhead Stadium. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Jan. 20 was the first time in NFL postseason history where there were multiple overtime games on the same day. With having such a historical day in NFL history occuring, it is no shocker that the conference championship games deserved high TV ratings.

Unfortunately for the league, with a record-breaking amount of people watching both games on TV and thousands in attendance at each venue, many fans and pundits voiced their displeasure for how the rules currently in place do not give each team involved the fairest chance to win.

Photo courtesy of James Anderson / Flicker Creative Commons
I strongly believe the rules for overtime in the postseason need to be modified.

The Patriots’ 37-31 win over the Chiefs was highlighted as the perfect example for why the rules are flawed. After winning a coin toss to receive possession of the football first, the Pats scored on their first drive in overtime against the mediocre Chiefs defense.

That touchdown decided the victor in a way that wasn’t consistent with the flow of the game. Kansas City’s rising star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was the leading reason why the Chiefs had a chance to win the game, but since the Pats scored on their first drive, he was relegated to nothing more than a spectator on the sidelines.

The conclusion to this otherwise wildly entertaining and intense game was anti-climatic and unsatisfying. To me and the many who watched, the game ended prematurely.

In the regular season, there are ten minutes in overtime and possession goes to the team who wins the coin toss. The first team in the overtime period to score a touchdown is declared the winner. If the score is a field goal the other has a chance to tie or win the game. If no team scores in the 10-minute period then the two teams tie. In the postseason, most of the same rules are applied, except there are 15 minutes in the period, the game cannot end in a tie and if a field goal is scored on the initial possession then the opponent has a chance to tie or win with a touchdown, according to For The Win.

The controversial aspect of the overtime rules in the postseason is the sudden death aspect. Once one of the teams scores, the game is over no matter what. It doesn’t matter if it is the fourth drive of overtime or the first. For the playoffs, I think the rule should be for the team that is scored on a single chance to tie or take the lead, and if unsuccessful, the game is over.

Many football purists will argue that the Chiefs’ chance to win was by playing well enough to win in regulation or by stopping the Patriots offense in the most crucial moments throughout the game.

They will say the Chiefs gave up three third and 10 conversions on the winning OT drive and didn’t hold the Patriots to a field goal. The purists will say offense, defense and special teams all are equally valuable to a team winning or losing a game in overtime. They will also say this is not a very likely outcome to happen in conference championship game. Lastly, they will argue that football is an imperfect game and results like these for the losing team will have to be accepted because that is simply how football is. These football idealists do not approve of rule changes that will change the game they grew up loving.

My rebuttal to these points are as follows: today’s NFL does not value offense, defense and special teams as having the same worth. The quarterback is by far the most important position on the field and are often the central reason why a team wins or loses.

The team that scores more points is the winner and the quarterback, more times than not, is the reason for the outcome. Yet, to have an overtime format that actually devalues the most important player on each team and changes the rhythm of the game is beyond ludicrous. A scenario like the New England and Kansas City game is rare to happen on a platform so massive, however, since it did happen, the league should modify the rules so this will never happen again.

The game should not be imperfect because the league refuses to correct a rule that does not give each team a fair shot to win a critical playoff game. The game should be imperfect because players and coaches can make a mistake on their own that decides whether their team goes to the Super Bowl or watches it at home.

Comments

About Toyloy Brown III