Tuesday’s PFT Live simulcast began with Peter King providing his big takeaway from Monday night’s epic game between the Chiefs and Rams: “Football has changed.”
Indeed it has. Fueled by fairly recent rules that promote safety by protecting quarterbacks and defenseless receivers and decades of efforts to pump up the offense, points are being scored like never before. So the question becomes whether there’s too much scoring.
There isn’t. And there won’t be unless and until the NFL becomes like the NBA or the Arena Football League, with a presumption that each drive will end in points.
Even during last night’s dizzying array of 14 touchdowns, it never felt like either team was presumed to score, with a defensive stop becoming something that was unlikely and unexpected. Indeed, three of the touchdowns came via plays that resulted in six points for the defense.
While Peter seemed to be on the fence regarding whether changes are needed, he suggested that the Competition Committee should take up the question of whether something needs to be done to restore a better balance between offense and defense. He mentioned that Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts, one of the first men to benefit from the initial wave of pro-offense rules in the ’70s, recently suggested that perhaps the defense should be given a 12th man.
That’s unlikely, for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, the owners — not the Competition Committee — ultimately determine the rules. And the owners see a bright-line connection from more points and higher ratings and more money.
Higher-scoring games not only attract more viewers but also hold more viewers, with folks less likely to stray to the hundreds of other things that can occupy our time at any given moment. Exciting games between teams with great offenses likewise make fans want the experience to last as long as possible, sparking few complaints when the total time of the game strays beyond three hours and 40 minutes.
Fans want games like that to last even longer. And while some may huff and puff about go-go games with pinball numbers, no one will blow the NFL’s house down over what was witnessed on Monday night. The more games like that, especially in prime time, the better off the NFL will be.