This week at the NFL’s annual league meeting, the fate of America was at stake. The 32 teams voted on a handful of rules for the upcoming NFL season, but none was more important than the overtime rules that the Chiefs proposed.
Under the current rule, if the first team with the ball scores a touchdown on its opening possession in overtime, then the game is over. This new proposal would change that:
By Kansas City; to amend Rule 16 to (1) allow both teams the opportunity to possess the ball at least one time in overtime, even if the first team to possess the ball in overtime scores a touchdown; (2) eliminate overtime for preseason; and (3) eliminate overtime coin toss so that winner of initial coin toss to begin game may choose whether to kick or receive, or which goal to defend.
Eliminating overtime for preseason is a smart idea, and the winner of the initial coin toss getting to pick whether it kicks or receives in overtime is cool too. But those aren’t the most important parts here.
The first amendment the Chiefs suggested is golden and just makes too much sense. Each team absolutely should get the ball in overtime — even if the team that opens the overtime period with possession scores a touchdown.
Right now, winning the overtime coin toss in the NFL is a big advantage
The current overtime system is better than the outright sudden-death overtime in the early 2000s when a field goal would end the game, but we still haven’t perfected this thing.
The team that wins the overtime coin toss ends up winning the game about 55 percent of the time. While it’s fair to say that the defense should just stop the opposing offense from scoring a touchdown, we all know that the current NFL rules heavily favor offenses being able to score touchdowns.
Wouldn’t you have loved to see Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense get a chance to match the Patriots’ touchdown in overtime of this year’s AFC Championship Game? Or Aaron Rodgers get one more shot to lead the Packers against the Seahawks’ defense in the 2015 NFC Championship Game? Or Matt Ryan and the Falcons getting the ball for one last drive in overtime of Super Bowl 51? (Don’t mind me, just a hurt Falcons fan still.)
The Chiefs being the team to introduce this rule change might make them come across as salty over the way their season ended, but they do have a point. If the NFL continues to place such a heavy emphasis on offense — and that’s not going anywhere — it’s logical to give both teams an opportunity to score a touchdown.
That’s a little closer to college football’s overtime format, in which the two teams trade possessions starting at the opposing 25-yard line. If the NFL passes the Chiefs’ proposal (it needs 24 teams to approve), then both teams at the very least are guaranteed to touch the ball. That’s a huge improvement.
More importantly, though, the new rule would correct another injustice: that the Patriots seem to be the ones benefitting most from the current system — especially over the last few postseasons.
We cannot support a rule that keeps favoring the Patriots
Super Bowl 51. The 2019 AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs.
That’s two times in the past three playoffs that the Patriots have won the coin toss in overtime and then won the game without the other team getting the ball.
In both seasons, NFL fans were robbed of MVP quarterbacks getting a chance for a last drive to show why they were awarded the league’s highest individual honor in the first place.
Instead, we watched the Patriots zip down the field for a quick score and end the game, either as Super Bowl champions or as a prelude to it. It’s anticlimactic — there’s always a sense of dread when Tom Brady and Co. get the ball in what winds up being a sudden-death situation.
Of course, proponents of the current overtime format can just point to the NFC Championship Game this season between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams. The Saints won the coin toss, but Drew Brees threw an interception on their first and only drive, which sealed the Rams’ trip to Super Bowl 53.
It was a great ending that showed defense can still make game-winning plays, but do we really want it to come down to that? Do we want these games to come down to a turnover, which is one of the more infrequent plays in football? Touchdowns are more likely to happen than turnovers — there were 1,286 offensive touchdowns compared to 696 turnovers in 2018.
There isn’t a guarantee he team that lost the overtime coin toss will score a touchdown, but it should at least get the chance.
The overtime proposal didn’t get passed for now, but the league will reexamine the rule change in May at its spring meeting.
Kansas City’s OT proposal was tabled and Denver’s onside kick proposal was defeated, I’m told.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 26, 2019
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that they’ll likely just get rid of the overtime coin toss.
Mike Tomlin said the Chiefs are probably going to amend the OT proposal so it doesn’t include so many items.
Chiefs want both teams to get a possession, to eliminate the coin toss, and to eliminate preseason OT. They’ll probably get rid of the coin toss part. https://t.co/UyVrM8Ccqg
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) March 26, 2019
Do the right thing, NFL. Give both teams the ball in overtime and watch the sport flourish.