The NFL’s proposed change to playoff overtime will give the team that loses the coin toss a chance of getting the ball if it gives up a field goal on the opening possession. But it won’t guarantee each team a possession; if the team that wins the toss can score a touchdown on the first possession, the game ends.
NFL Competition Committee co-chair Rich McKay said today that he opposes a rule that would guarantee a two-possession overtime because he believes maintaining the sudden-death aspect of the ability to win on the opening possession is important.
“The problem with the two-possession rule is it will change the way people play at the end of the game,” McKay said. “It would absolutely have an effect. If there’s a minute and a half to go, you’re at home and you feel good about your team, if you’re in a two-possession overtime, you’re going to be conservative. Real conservative. Because in the end you feel very comfortable going into overtime. Whereas in a sudden-death format you’re not as comfortable, and you’re motivated to score. And that’s why we all like the sudden death aspect of it. This was the best proposal we could craft that modified it and still kept the major elements of it.”
McKay said he’s optimistic that the proposal will be adopted because the Competition Committee has demonstrated to the owners the statistics showing how big an advantage winning the coin flip at the start of overtime is.
“A lot of people are very open to talking about it because
people do recognize the statistical situation we’re in,” McKay said. “I hope they
recognize that the change we’re proposing is not a dramatic change in
philosophy. It’s still a sudden-death system.”
The overtime proposal will apply only to playoff games, and whether the rule is adopted or not, regular-season overtime will be unchanged in 2010. McKay noted that the stakes are higher in the playoffs and as a result the Competition Committee thought it was more important to get overtime right.
“This rule is proposed as postseason only,” McKay said. “The reason it was suggested as postseason only is that there were teams that thought, in the regular season you play 16 games, and if a game ends in a tie, you’ve still got 15 other chances to get to the playoffs. In the postseason you don’t.”