Here’s an overtime compromise that is sure to never be considered

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The NFL usually does what it wants, and the Competition Committee doesn’t seem to want any tangible advice from those who aren’t actively employed by a football team to do football things about football. Because football. But that’s never stopped me from offering advice on how to make the game of football better, so why start now?

The Chiefs’ proposal to adjust overtime to ensure that both teams get a possession even if the first team to possess the ball scores a touchdown absolutely should be adopted. Two of the last three seasons have seen the Patriots win a coin toss in a championship-level game, drive the length of the field, score a touchdown, and walk off a winner — while the current league MVP (Matt Ryan in 2016 and Patrick Mahomes in 2018) — had to sit and watch it all happen.

The changes to overtime made after the Saints beat the Vikings with a first-possession field goal in overtime of the 2009 NFC Championship amounted a half-measure, a Band-Aid. A partial solution that acknowledges the unfairness of the situation but fails to completely eradicate it.

So eradicate it now. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s the right thing to do. (Also, it gives the many teams who resent the success of the Patriots a way, albeit miniscule, to stick it to them.)

And here’s the other side of the compromise, the one that would help to avoid the dreaded “unintended consequences,” which seems to be code for “we don’t want to do this and we don’t want to tell you why, so we’ll just hide behind a fancy-sounding term”: For the regular season, go back to sudden death.

I never had a problem with sudden death in the regular season. That’s where the “hey if you can’t win in 60 minutes, it’s on you” argument is a lot more persuasive, and where the urgency to get the games over with takes on greater importance, especially if one of the teams in a Sunday game will be playing on the following Thursday.

The change made in 2010 got jammed onto the regular season because coaches wanted to have the exact same rules for the regular season and the postseason. (Apparently, they’ve been getting their information about regular season and postseason overtime from Donovan McNabb.) But there’s no good reason to have the same rules, because the unfairness of sudden death becomes particularly unfair only when a season is on the line.

Sure, the unfairness argument could be made for Week 17 games that have playoff berths hinging on them, but that’s still nothing remotely similar to the idea that a berth in a Super Bowl or a Super Bowl championship can be secured by winning a coin toss and using rules that systematically have been skewed toward offense to drive down the field and score a touchdown.

So there it is. A perfectly fair and appropriate compromise to the overtime conundrum. One that will be summarily ignored.

77 responses to “Here’s an overtime compromise that is sure to never be considered

  1. The ONLY REASON anyone wants to change the OT rules is because NE won those games. If NE had lost those games, no one would care. If the Patriots win a big game with the proposed change, how long do you think it would be before sore losers would clamor for each team to get at least 2 possessions?

  2. The question remains. If both teams score a TD on their opening drive of OT, are we back to square one? If both teams score a field goal on their second possession, is it onto stage 3?

  3. Take the coin toss, complete 3 passes and kick a field goal is a cheap and lame way to decide a game, yes even in the regular season.

    Some people like college style “shootout” overtime, some people think it doesn’t represent enough of the elements of the game to be deciding winners, especially for the playoffs (myself included).

    I’ve been saying for years, the solution is simple:

    Short overtime period, full elements of the game present. Coin flip, kick off, 10 mins. No “sudden death”, whoever is leading at the end wins. If it’s still tied, then go to a “college style” overtime shootout, touchdowns and 2 point conversions only, no kicking field goals or extra points.

    Just like hockey. Regulation, short overtime period, and if still necessary, shootout. And most importantly NO TIES, EVER.

  4. Personally, I have always favored college football’s OT rules. With one exception. I think that with every successive possession, the offensive team should begin 5 yards further back, making each possession that much more difficult to score. It’s fair to both sides and eliminates all the fairness arguments.

  5. Give each team a set of downs. Doesn’t matter who wins the coin toss. Both are equal. If one team goes on and makes more downs and the other doesn’t, well… I guess we know which is the better team (and who wins).

  6. All these recent rules changes (kicking game etc) are getting to be too much.

    Here’s what you do for overtime. Make it a full extra quarter, but don’t allow teams to go for the tie after their first possession with the ball.

    So if team 1 kicks a field goal on it’s first possession and team 1 kicks a field goal on the first possession. Then on team 1’s second possession they score a touchdown and kick the extra point. If team 2 scores a touchdown next, they must go for the 2 point conversion.

  7. Both teams do get a chance in overtime, one teams offense gets an opportunity and the other teams defense gets an opportunity.

    Quit messing with the rules, whats next participation trophies for everyone. If you win you win you lose you lose, do better next time!

  8. Just add an entire new 15 minute period. If the game is tied after that, each team gets the ball at the 15 yard line and you run it similar to the way College runs it. Every TD in OT or in extended OT must try a 2 point conversion.

  9. Since people are so obsessed with the length of games, how about just flipping a coin and the winner gets the victory. 🙂 That would have been a pretty lame way to determine the Falcons-Pats Super Bowl after a 25-point come from behind rally, but then the league wouldn’t have to worry about going too long…

  10. “Sure, the unfairness argument could be made for Week 17 games that have playoff berths hinging on them, but that’s still nothing remotely similar to the idea that a berth in a Super Bowl or a Super Bowl championship can be secured by winning a coin toss and using rules that systematically have been skewed toward offense to drive down the field and score a touchdown.”

    Um, you need to make the playoffs to get to the Super Bowl.

  11. What if we made it 2 out of 3 on the coin toss? We just need to assimilate the coin into the game. Certify the coins like we do footballs. Use instant replay to show the flips. Draft and develop coin flipping skill.

  12. It doesn’t matter what you do, OT will always be this way unless they just make it another quarter. If both teams go down and Score TDs the original team with possession will probably score next to win. I think adding the second possession is fine, but it doesn’t change it that much.

    They should do the OT coin toss at the start of the game (not use the original toss, but toss it a second time for OT) so both teams know who is getting the ball first in OT all game long.

    Not much of a rule change, but it would help to make better choices late in a game if your defense is like swiss cheese and you don’t have the ball first in OT. Maybe you go for some two point conversions.

  13. The best overtime solution is so simple and fair that it is ignored. Simply add 5 minutes (or whatever) to the clock when the period ends in a tie.

  14. I like sudden death. If they want to eliminate the coin toss, then give the team who had the lead last have the choice. Then it puts more pressure on the team coming from behind to go for the win in regulation.

  15. Common sense. As it stands, the NFL has the least competitive overtime in all of sports. Why has this taken so long?

  16. This whole change the OT rules is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. We literally saw the rules work exactly how they were intended to work in the conference championships. The Rams started on defense, made a big play to get the ball back and their offense scored to win. The Patriots executed three third-and-longs to eventually score the touchdown, and there’s absolutely zero chance anyone would complain had the Patriots lost to the Chiefs. So both Super Bowl teams started on opposite sides of the coin toss and both found a way to win.

    I’m so tired of teams complaining and changing the rules after they lose to the Patriots. Bill Polian and Peyton Manning whined about the rules in 2004 when they lost to the Patriots and the league instituted illegal contact. Harbaugh and the Ravens whined about substitutions after they lost to the Patriots in 2014 and the league changed that rule, and now the Chiefs are whining about this. At this point it has just become pathetic.

  17. go back to the way it was, sudden death. lifes not fair. the strong survive. the strong teams can play d. good lord its football not candy land.

  18. Here’s another thing that won’t happen but should….eliminate Ties from the record and make them Losses. Teams will fight harder to win when they know that a Tie means an L. Fans hate Ties and teams hate them, so get rid of them.

  19. In the even of a tie score at the end of regulation, I’d like to see each team get one possession and one possession only. If it’s still tied after each team has their one possession, game over; it’s a tie game.

    Honestly, I don’t understand why so many people have such an issue with ties. Ties can actually add a good bit of excitement at the end of the year due to all the crazy tie-breaker scenarios they add to the standings mix.

    Is it a fantasy football thing? Are tie games bad for fantasy? If so, I’m even more in favor of them.

  20. I’d be ok with it so long as the second team was limited to “go for it” on 4th down to no more attempts than the first team needed. That is if the first team did not have to use a 4th down to move the ball, then the second team must punt on 4th down.

  21. Just find the starting spot on the field that leads to a score 50% of the time, start over time at that field position, and go back to sudden death. ‘Fairness’ would mean that 50% of the time the team that wins the coin toss wins (and conversely loses) in overtime.

    Entertainment value is much higher in sudden death, and entertainment equals viewers, equals dollars. Everybody wins.

    Unfortunately football people aren’t the smartest and would never get to this outcome, simple as it may be.

  22. OT in Football cannot be truely fair same as extra innings in baseball.

    If both teams score TDs on the first possession then sudden death is stupid and doesn’t change the so calles problem.

    Either you keep the rules the same or in the playoffs you make a 10 minute period that goes straight to sudden death if its tied at the end (just continue the game where the period ended).

    And the field goal wins in ot in the regular season is absurd. Remember that the issue was the coin toss winners used to win 60% under the old rules now its closer to 50-50.

    Final choice a team has if they can’t stop their opponent: kick onsides, if the kicking team recovers the game becomes sudden death under the current rules amd could win with a field goal.

  23. I agree with the comments regarding the fact that if it were not the Patriots who took advantage of a couple of coin tosses, this would be a non issue. There is no “perfect” solution. That said, why not just keep it simple:

    1. No overtime during the regular season. A tie game ends as a tie. (After all, if you argue- as Florio does- that a one possession game in overtime is okay during the regular season, why bother at all? We’ll have the added element of teams deciding between playing for a tie or going for the win.

    2. In the playoffs, a tie at the end of regulation can just lead to an additional period– whether it be a full 15 min. or maybe only 10 min. Outcome is not solely dependent on scoring, but takes into account clock management as well– just like in regulation.

  24. Best overtime solution..flip a coin the team that gets the ball first wins if they get a TD if they kick a FG the other team gets a possession. If they don’t score it becomes sudden death

  25. Unintended consequences isn’t a fancy term for people who haven’t thought things out, it’s a warning to the people they are telling that THEY haven’t thought things out.

  26. Here’s an idea for playoff games only. Play a full quarter. First team to score gets an extra half point. If no scoring in quarter continue on in sudden death.

  27. The simple fix to OT- Make it one 6-minute quarter. Every sport in the world has an allotted time to end the game fairly. With a 6 minute quarter, defense is still a part of it, and each team theoretically can have the ball. You can even have a shorter play clock to ensure speed and pace is picked up. Why fight it? If they’re concerned about games taking too long, cut out 1 commercial break per quarter. The “lost revenue”(yeah right) can be re-adjusted to commercial spots running. Charge them the difference

  28. Both teams already have a chance to score on the first teams first possession. Even in the playoffs. Cardinals beat the Packers on a fumble return 2009.
    Defenses are part of football games too.

  29. The “play defense” argument is wrong. Why does one team have to play defense, but the other one doesn’t?
    Personally, I have no problem with tie games. One possession per team, it’s over. During the playoffs, you play one possession for each team and if it’s still tied, the next team that scores. wins.
    If player safety and the number of extra plays per game is so important, then you can’t start going to unlimited scores like college. And ties, like them or not, are the best option for keeping players safe and fresh.

  30. There’s one elephant in the room no one is talking about. How they generally just let teams play when it comes to playoff games (less officiating) and don’t during regular season games. Why not just be consistent?

  31. Or how about this, I personally don’t agree with all the whining about it but if changes must be made why don’t we just make it first team to say 10 points wins, no matter how they get there. Touchdowns field goals safeties Etc that ensures both teams gets multiple possessions

  32. For me I say no more coin flip. Home team gets the ball first in reg and playoffs. Home teams should get advantage. Reg season sudden death, even a field goal, you know who gets the ball first so manage the end of the game accordingly. Playoffs 10 minutes, regular rules. If you bleed the clock on a 10 minute drive good for you and sorry the other team doesn’t touch the ball. If still tied sudden death. Home team gets the ball.

  33. People are looking for the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist! Since the last OT tweak, the team receiving the ball first has won 52.7% of the time – how much more equality of outcome are we looking for?

  34. Get rid of OT in the regular season. In the playoffs have OT. The way it works now is fine. History shows that the outcome for the winner and loser of the coin flip is close to 50/50. The only reason KC and others are complaining that a change is needed is the Patriots. During all these arguments, it’s conveniently forgotten that the Saints won the coin flip and lost.

    If there is a change to OT, the “both teams must possess” argument is nonsensical because the proponents haven’t said what happens if it’s still tied after that. You’re down the rabbit hole.

    So if the OT rule must change, go to another period, preferably less then the full 15 minutes, but probably not less than 10 because the Patriots took over 8 minutes on a few drives in the playoffs and God forbid that should happen again in OT and “unfairly” leave the other team with too little time to score. The idea of starting the OT where the 4th quarter ended could be strategically interesting.

  35. If you want to implement that change, you should make it fair for each team. The easiest way would be to remove place kicking from overtime (no field goals). That way each team is in four down territory. Also, make them have to go for two point conversions. Otherwise, the second team to get the ball has an advantage of knowing they have four downs to get ten yards. Punting would still be in play, but then it would be first touchdown wins after a punt.

  36. College rule sucks because it’s so removed and gimmicky from the game itself.

    IF there’s a change, here’s an idea: when an offense scores a touchdown on their first drive, the opponents get to respond with their own touchdown but they MUST go for 2 point conversion. If they succeed in the 2pc, they win the game by 1 point. If they don’t, they lose by 1 point. At that junction, the game would be decided on that one play. Quick and simple!

    Another unintended positive consequence is that a coach might go for 2 in the regulation to win the game outright instead of to tie the game because odds are the same. And in the future there would be less overtime games in the first place.

  37. Maybe it’s just me, but maybe the issue may fall on the coin toss itself.
    What would reactions be by NFL teams if the last team to have possession of the ball in regulation HAD to kickoff in overtime if it ended in a tie in regulation

  38. Pats fans are awesome. They talk about whining and selective rule changing – when protecting Tom Brady has been the central theme of both the rules committee and officiating profession for close to 2 decades.

  39. The current OT is just fine. People tend to forget how many of these games get to OT in the first place. In many cases the team coming from behind PLAYS for OT instead of keeping the foot on the pedal and winning outright because it seems safer in the moment. Also we’ll see the team that just got tied up receive the kick off run out the regulation clock to play for OT sometimes with over a min reamaining. Essentially both teams content to go to OT. OT should be last resort and undesirable.

    Id rather see more teams go for 2 at the end of regulation to win it or go for it on 4th down while already in tying FG range to try to win it outright than change the rules so Andy Reeds offence gets to touch the ball after giving up a length of the field scoring drive in OT. Bringing back sudden death would be better than extending OT. “Sudden death could be… gulp, sudden death, We need to finish here so we dont have to go to sudden death”.

  40. Make it like baseball. The away team gets the ball first. If they score, the home team gets a chance to tie or win. If the home team ties it, they kick it off… basically look at possessions like a half-inning of a baseball game. This gives the advantage of knowing how many points need to be scored as the second team possessing to the home team and guarantees both teams get the ball once. This idea is not new, just re-framing it in a different way.

  41. Someone on Reddit recently worked out the stats on OT games since the rule change. According to them, and I have no reason to doubt it, 50% of teams winning the toss go on to win the game, the team losing the toss win 44% while the remaining 6% are ties. Of the teams who won by winning the toss the game ended on the first possession 39% of the time.

    Now I’m not saying OT is perfect but no other alternative would be either and I severely doubt it would offer as much parity as the current system does. These figures also show that it’s only 1 game in 5 where the team who wins the toss go up the field and score a TD to win on the first drive.

  42. Get rid of OT in the regular season.

    You tie, you tie. OT often is anti-climatic.

    And you gain excitement in the scenario a team down by 3, time almost out, 4th down, do they kick the FG knowing it’s a tie, or go for 6, thinking the risk is worth beating the tie?

    Right now, 90% of the time, teams go for the 3 knowing they got OT.

    So any “lost excitement” of removing OT is injected into the 4th quarter by upping the stakes.

  43. Get rid of OT in the regular season.

    You tie, you tie. OT often is anti-climatic anyway. KC/NE is the rarity, not the norm.

    And you gain excitement in the scenario a team down by 3, time almost out, 4th down, do they kick the FG knowing it’s a tie, or go for 6, thinking the risk is worth beating the tie?

    Right now, 90% of the time, teams go for the 3 knowing they got OT.

    So any “lost excitement” of removing OT is injected into the 4th quarter by upping the stakes.

  44. Easy solution. Go back to sudden death with the home team getting the ball to start OT. Make it part of the home field advantage.

  45. I have a better idea than a coin flip. Place the ball at the 50 yard line. Each team lines up 11 players at their respective 20 yard lines. The ref signals “GO!” from the 50 yard line and whichever ream comes up with the ball gets it at their 20, first and 10. The present OT rules ensue after that.

  46. Adopt college overtime rules and keep the same rules for the regular season and postseason. The idea of having different rules apply in different parts of the season is actually more ridiculous to me than whatever rules are used for overtime.

  47. The rules are fine as they are.

    With sudden death, if they could kick a 60 yard field goal, the opposing offense didn’t have a chance. I can understand why that might be unfair. The amount of football it takes to get the opposing 40 yard line is no where near as much as it is to drive the length of the field and score 6 points.

    The moral of the story is, if you can’t keep the opposing team out of the endzone in the first possession, you don’t deserve to win the game.

  48. Someone already said it. Just wait – they’ll put this rule in place, the Pats will get the ball back after the first-possessing team scores a TD, score a TD themselves, get a stop, and then win after that on a FG. And then everyone will be up in arms saying the first team to score the TD should have won, fair and square.

  49. If the team that gets the ball first in overtime scores a touchdown game over. If they score a field goal, give the other team a second possession if they score a field goal on their first.

    Similar to how pick up games choose teams. First captain gets one pick, second captain gets two picks

  50. billsrthefuture says:
    March 24, 2019 at 2:56 pm
    Pats fans are awesome. They talk about whining and selective rule changing – when protecting Tom Brady has been the central theme of both the rules committee and officiating profession for close to 2 decades.

    Translation: the Patriots have been really, really good and Tom Brady is arguably the best to ever do it at the QB position. Outcomes would be the same any way you want to slice it

  51. How about an overtime with real sudden death?

    In overtime, there is one possession and one possession only. The winner of the coin toss chooses to go on offense or defense. Regular rules – four downs for a first down and no punting or field goals. If the offensive team scores a TD, they win the game. If the offensive team fails to score a TD on that drive, the defensive team automatically wins the game. There would be no game clock.

    The coin toss would be interesting – there would be some teams (Bills, Jaguars for example) who would choose defense for overtime if they won the toss.

    You don’t have to worry about ties or making the game that much longer. And the suspense would be crazy.

  52. What’s hilarious about all this is that whatever the OT rules are, the Patriots and coaches and players will adapt, put their heads down and play; no complaints. And when they succeed, you know what happens next.

  53. Remember how the Saints won the coin toss in the NFC championship, how did that turn out for them? Play Defense, win games, the end.

  54. While I agree the league should adopt something that gives each team 1 guaranteed possession (except on a turnover) unintended consequences are why the rules modifications are so screwed up. If you don’t think the consequences have been unintentional then that means they have been on purpose and there are far greater problems than “fixing” (pun intended) overtime.

  55. It should back to the way it was, the first score wins. Otherwise, it’s just play until the team that people want to win, wins.

  56. I’ll take a shot at it.
    In the post season give both teams one possession. If the game is still tied then place the ball at the 5 yard line for one play. Flip the coin and the winner gets to choose whether they want to play offense or defense for that one and final play.

  57. Here is a more radical approach to eliminating the coin toss. Be it post season or regular season just have the game continue as it is at the end of regulation. The possesion continues, same yardline same down. And play sudden death from there. Would eliminate some of the urgency and excitement inside 2 minutes but would eliminate random advantage of coin toss and keep OT short which is what owners want.

  58. So if approved this should be known as the Mahomes Rule.

    Because we all know why it was brought up in the first place. Sounds right to me,

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