We’ve long believed that the NFL needs to change the overtime rules. And we’re convinced that it will happen only after the sudden-victory concept operates to permit a team to win a high-profile game without the opponent getting a crack at the ball.
That moment possibly came last night, when the Saints won the toss in overtime and marched (with the assistance of three very questionable officiating calls) into field-goal range.
Last year, after the Chargers beat the Colts in a one-possession wild-card overtime, we made the case for the NFL to change the rules before the sudden-victory procedure delivers a one-drive Super Bowl win. Our proposal at the time was simple — the team that doesn’t get the ball to start overtime gets a chance to match any score generated during the first possession. After that, the game converts to sudden victory.
Even if the approach were used only for the playoffs, it would be a huge improvement over the current protocol.
As we’ve more recently pointed out, there’s an even simpler fix. The first possession should be based on some statistical edge achieved during the game, like most net yards or most first downs or fewest turnovers. With a coin flip being the absolute last resort after at least ten tiebreakers to determine who gets in to the postseason tournament, it shouldn’t be the first option for determining who’ll get a chance at advancing to the next round or, ultimately, winning the championship.
Sunday night’s game provided, at a minimum, another warning shot to the NFL. If/when the team that wins the toss parlays its good fortune into a single-drive Super Bowl win, the outcry will be deafening. It therefore makes far more sense to fix the problem before it gives the NFL a black eye that wouldn’t quickly fade.