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).