Monday, March 1, 2010

NFL reconsiders OT rules and it's about time

In case you missed it during the onslaught of news last week, the NFL is considering a change in its overtime format -- for playoff games only.

It's about time, I'd say. Past time, really. The league's "sudden-death" format has long been too dependent on a coin toss and also ensures that most overtime games are decided by a field-goal kicker, which is very anti-climactic compared to a touchdown. This was demonstrated most recently when Brett Favre never touched the ball in overtime in New Orleans' 31-28 win over Minnesota in the NFC championship game -- a fact that prompted me to hammer the NFL in a "Scott Says" blog post back in January.

Here's the Associated Press version of the "possible OT change" story:

An NFL spokesman says the league could change its overtime format for playoff games at a meeting next month.

Greg Aiello said Saturday that under the new format, both teams would get the ball at least once unless the first team with the ball scores a touchdown. If the first team with the ball makes a field goal and the other team ties the game, action would continue until a team scores again.

Under the current rules, the first team to score wins.

The competition committee will discuss the new concept with teams and players at league meetings March 21-24 in Orlando, Fla., when it could come to a vote. At least two-thirds of the teams would need to agree to the changes for new rules to be adopted.

The competition committee met with the players' union and players Thursday during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Discussion continued when the competition committee met with a general managers' advisory committee Friday.

The debate about the rule gained steam after the NFC Championship Game, when New Orleans beat Minnesota 31-28 in overtime and Brett Favre's Vikings never got the ball in the extra period. Under the proposed rule, Minnesota would have had another possession because it didn't allow a touchdown.

Overtime was adopted for regular-season games in 1974, and the sudden-death format allowed games to end in a tie if neither team scored in 15 minutes. Overtime for playoff games always has been sudden death.

I think the simpler way to say and do this would be to say: "First team to score six points in overtime wins."

If you win the coin toss and score a touchdown, fine. Game over. Or two field goals -- that's OK, too, because at least the other team gets a chance that way. But please, not another one of these "Go drive the ball 30 yards, bring out the kicker for the 40-yard field goal, and let's all go home."

I would also advocate having this as the rule for ALL NFL games, not just for playoff games. (Ultimately, I also think this rule unfortunately won't be in place for playoff games or any other NFL games 2010 -- the league's teams are notoriously resistant to change, and the 2/3 majority is always a sticking point. But we can always hope).


Corey said...

I think that there should be no kicking in overtime anyway. You either score a touchdown, punt or turn the ball over on downs.

Makes you really earn that overtime win.

Jason said...

I'd rather they do this:

Coin-flip winner gets to choose, kick or receive?

If you choose kick, you are guaranteed a possession regardless of what the other team does with the ball.

If you choose receive, you award the other team 1 point and they kick off to you. The game ends if the kicking team gets the ball back, whether that's on downs, by turnover, or an onside kick.

Anonymous said...

Teams should play defense and stop whining about it.

panfan1 said...

I agree with Corey! That sounds good & fair!

Anonymous said...

Corey said...
"I think that there should be no kicking in overtime anyway. You either score a touchdown, punt or turn the ball over on downs."

Uh... Isn't punting a kick??

John said...

They should leave it just the way it is. Oh and some research would be helpful before we cry about something. A quick look at the stats tells me that from 2000 to 2007 there were 124 OT games. In 37 of those games the coin toss winner won without the other team touching the ball. That's slightly more than 30%. In other words 70% of the time it didn't go like that. So 7 times out of 10 both teams got at least one shot to win it with their kicker. This is the pros after all. 7 out of 10 is pretty darn good odds.

John said...

Better stats on this subject -

The NFL has had 325 overtime games since the rule was adopted in 1974. The results:

Both teams have had possession 235 times (72.3%).
The team that has won the toss has won 169 times (52.0%).
The team that has lost the toss has won 141 times (43.4%).
223 games were decided by a field goal (68.6%).
86 games were decided by a TD (26.5%).
One game was decided by a safety (0.3%).
There have been 15 ties (4.6%).

Source: NFL

So in the entire history of this format it is nearly dead even as to who wins.

Anonymous said...

Last comment if you really want to make a change move the kickoff point back to where it was before the 94 season. Prior to moving it back 5 yards there was no predictive value to winning the coin toss.

Anonymous said...

They should adopt the college overtime rules exactly the way they are played in Division I.

The odds makers in Vegas will love this.

Ralph said...

I think it should be like college at all levels with each team getting the ball on the 25 yard line and having four plays or more to score. It's fair and exciting. Perhaps for the pros each team could get the ball on the 40 yard line and have four plays to score or get a first down and keep going.

Anonymous said...

Amen to the "play defense and stop whining" comment. The best way to prevent losing in overtime is to not go to overtime. Plus sudden death is what makes overtime exciting because the game can end on any single play. I didn't hear anyone complaining about the Cards/Packers playoff game. Neither the league, players, or TV affiliates want a 3:45 game with the final score 56-62, especially if the four o'clock game is a good one.

Anonymous said...

The NFL front office retards in NYC and Goodell with his outrageous 11 million$ annual salary are about 50 years behind on this one.

High school and college football have the only reasonable fair way to end a tie since you cant have a jump ball like in hoops or puck face off like in hockey.

In case of a tie at the end of regulation flip the coin to allow each team to get the ball at the 20 yard line with 4 downs to score and a completed offense for both teams ends the OT.

In the case of the NFL it may be a better idea to put place the ball at the 40 or 50 yard line for each offense possession.

Anonymous said...

Your bias is showing here. So what if Farve didn't get to touch the ball in the overtime with the Saints? If it had not been for Farve throwing the interception to Porter, the viking could have won it in regulation. If the vikes had not had 12 men in the huddle on the previous play, they again could have won it in regulation. Reality is, the vikings caused the overtime due to their incompetance, and you want to cry because Farve didn't touch the ball in overtime! Bias opinion if there ever was one.