Blog Entry

If we must, a simple solution to NFL overtime

Posted on: January 5, 2009 12:51 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2009 1:46 pm

For most of the rooting public, NFL overtime is sort of an anomaly in sports for one reason: it's deemed unfair.

A coin toss often dictates the winner because of the whole score-and-it's-over attitude NFL overtime adopts.overtime coin toss

(Get better at predicting coin tosses, I say)

A Google search of "overtime + NFL + rules" brings up countless columns and stories questioning the sanctity of the league's overtime system. Most want to bitch about it, some want to fix it, a few claim it ain't perfect, but who said things have to be fair?

If pronged, I fall into the latter's camp, but I do have a simple suggestion for those who may be listening. The solution isn't to give each team a chance (the pee-wee soccer version of solutions) or to play a version of what college football does (the soccer/hockey version), but simply to score.

Touchdowns that is.

First team to score a touchdown wins. That's it. Get into the end zone before the other team and bam, you win. It wouldn't have changed the outcome of Saturday night's Colts-Chargers thriller, but it would lengthen the field. Lengthening the field means the loser of the coin toss has a better chance of getting the ball back. And isn't that what it's all about? Creating at least the opportunity for mutual offensive possession?

SprolesIt doesn't have to be built in, simply increase the cost of scoring. After all, who wants to see a kicker win games? It's exciting when Rob Bironas blasts a 47-yard kick for the win, but not as exciting as seeing LenDale White punch it in on 3rd and goal, right?

Stripping away one element, the field goal, to add depth, trickery and creativity to the game is worth it. Witnessing a team march down the field knowing all they need is a field goal is only slightly less anti-climatic than an ending of Scooby Doo. Oh, it was Old Man Winter, who knew?!

Good day, I say.

Give me an overtime where six points, not three, is needed to exit the playing field. That's it. No possession equality, no new version of football like college. Just backyard football to end a game, and heroes named Sproles, not Bironas or Vinatieri or Longwell.

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Category: NFL

Since: Apr 10, 2007
Posted on: January 6, 2009 11:42 pm

If we must, a simple solution to NFL overtime

Thanks CH!  I've had a terrible day and your compliment cheered me up.  Anyway, not to change the subject, but the NFL OT talk seemed to have run its course anyway.

I totally agree about pitchers duels and advancing runners, etc.  A memorable game I went to, of many over the years, was Braves-Phils at the Vet early April, chilly, in 1998.  Maddux and Schilling went 8.5 scoreless scattered like 7 hits and the Phils pulled out a 1-0 with a run against a Brave reliever in the bottom of the ninth.  Game was like 1 hour 56 mins.

Lastly, there was another thing you said in particular --and I think you were talking about sports in general-- it really struck me as pure gold.

Learn to like all parts of the game, not just the heroin type injections of excitment. Memo, that's why they are exciting, because they aren't suppose to happen with great frequency.

This is exactly why I like road racing of all forms and Formula 1 especially.  All the time, people who are into only NASCAR or only oval racing say how boring road racing and F1 are and 99% will say it's "because there is so little passing."  As if we have a God-given right to have constant overtaking in motorsports.  What they miss is that the rarity of the overtaking in many road racing circuits and in Formula 1 is exactly what makes the passes that happen so exciting and memorable.  I think it was Sir Sterling Moss who once said about the rarity of passing in F1, that it's like the finest wine, to be enjoyed only on the rarest and deserving occasion.  If you drank it all the time, it wouldn't be that special.  That about says it all!


Since: Feb 25, 2008
Posted on: January 6, 2009 10:45 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: January 5, 2009 11:29 pm

If we must, a simple solution to NFL overtime


When you think about it, what does the outcome of a football game really determine? In it's purest sense, a football contest is meant to find out which team is stronger than the other. When I say "team," I mean 53 players - offense, defense, and special teams. The NFL's overtime policy is a fairly accurate measuring mark of that.

If a team can't play defense, they do not deserve to win the game. If a team has an excellent kicker, they should be rewarded for it. Preventing a team from matriculating the ball down field is just as important as going the distance and scoring on your own.

Besides, there are game winning kicks at the end of regulation to avoid overtime altogether, so it only seems natural to allow kicks to end games in overtime.

As far as kicking goes, I see it as part of the game. Many of the greatest games in football ended with clutch kicks or in Buffalo's case - not so clutch kicks. I've come to enjoy the drama associated with big kicks. One snap. One play. One kick. One heck of a way to end a ballgame.

Since: Dec 31, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2009 10:29 pm

If we must, a simple solution to NFL overtime

Pirateball hit it out of the park. The reason there are so many babies regarding OT rules is because there are so many football fans that don't fully understand the game nor ever played it. (I'm not referring to playing at the pro level either) The competition committee has reviewed this and the stats just don't support a change. There isn't even a 60% history of the team that wins the coin toss wins the OT, It's like 54% in the regular season and 50.2% in the playoffs. If the NFL has shown anything over the years it's a willingness to change to support offensive type situations, something the public has wanted. I.E. 2pt conversion, Kickoffs from further back, Kickoffs out of bounds spotting at the 40, after 5 yards no hands on the WR (aka the Peyton/Indy Colts rule) Nevermind the millions that Defensive players make like Bob Sanders, Freeney, and Mathis just to name 3 pros who make approx 30 million per playing Defense. They had a chance to make a couple plays and stop the Bolts. Making the pro OT anything like college is a joke as well. They show zero regard for any Defensive integrity and just throw those guys with there backs against the wall and put an offense in field goal range. Why show so much disrespect to the Defensiver part of the game? Nevermind the Millions owners have to try and protect in their investment which is the players. Anyone see a game with a good running team that wears down a team and the 2 and 3 yard rushes in the 1stQ are now 5 and 6 yards in the 4thQ? Because the Defense is worn down. You put pros out there, who play all-out at crazy speeds, for multiple more plays because you have 4 back to back to back to back field goals. There going to get hurt, and nevermind talk about boring.

The reason there are so many new comers to Football is because it's the greatest team sport. Every man on the roster is important because there number can be called at anytime. You can have a Peyton who wins you many regular season games and gets you to the playoffs but when you are matched up against the other good teams they can limit his affect on the game. You can have a Michael Jordan in the NBA who can damn near win championships almost by himself, not to write smack about the NBA but that doesn't happen in Football, it is too much of a team sport. I'll bet people who support a new overtime love home runs in baseball and want players on juice crushing the ball and can't appreciate a good pitchers duel with a sacrifice squeeze. Learn to like all parts of the game, not just the heroin type injections of excitment. Memo, that's why they are exciting, because they aren't suppose to happen with great frequency.

Since: May 13, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2009 8:57 pm

If we must, a simple solution to NFL overtime

It's a better suggestion than most... but I think we are still overlooking the really simple, obvious solution. Get rid of OT altogether.

Any variation of "one shot and done" is IMO a thoroughly unsatisfactory way to end a game that, during regulation time, involves so much sophisticated strategy of ball control and clock management, especially in the closing minutes of a tight game. All that goes out the window in OT, and the whole game can be won on one big pass, one long run, one turnover, or one defensive slip.

If the game is a tie at the end of regulation, just call it a tie. The world won't end if there are a few more ties. And in reality there will probably be fewer ties at the end of four Qs than there are now, since teams will have to decide whether to play for the tie (rather than play for OT) or go for it all on a final scoring drive or a 2pt conversion.

OK, OK, so you all hate ties. Fine.

In that case, if its tied at the end of OT, give the W to the visiting team. As a rule of thumb, Vegas will give a 3 pt edge to a home team when the teams are otherwise equal, so lets make the home team justify its supposed home field advantage. That way, everybody knows exactly what they have to do in the closing minutes of the game. And you'll probably see a lot more strategy at the end of games. For example, the game is tied with 3 minutes to go, so the home team drives for a TD instead of kicking a FG, knowing that a matching FG by the visitors would cost them the game on the "tie to win" rule.

Let's get it done in four quarters, playing all the rules of the game the way it was intended to be played

Since: Jun 18, 2008
Posted on: January 5, 2009 7:41 pm

If we must, a simple solution to NFL overtime

I like the idea. But why not add that if the team that gets the ball first scores, they need to kickoff? That way both teams get the ball the same way at least one time. That gives the home team the ball first and the other team a chance to recover as well.

Since: Nov 3, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2009 5:48 pm

If we must, a simple solution to NFL overtime

The winner of the coin toss only wins in overtime 60% of the time. It's up to the defense to prevent the offense from scoring. If they don't, they deserve to lose. It's that simple, really. The present system is fine.I think both teams deserve to have the ball, but this idea brought up seems fair with a team needing a TD.

Since: Apr 10, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2009 5:44 pm

If we must, a simple solution to NFL overtime

Some defenses are a team's best offense.  Like Ed Reed and the Ravens, for instance.  If it's overtime and the Ravens lose the toss, they  have a good chance to score a TD with their defense on the field, or at the least, force a turnover to set up a chip-shot field goal for Stover.

I'm a Steeler fan, and in overtime, I'm more nervous with Roethlisberger out there trying to gun-sling the ball into enemy territory than I am watching the Steel Curtain shut down the opponent three-and-out or force a turnover to set up a Reed GWFG.

Since: Apr 10, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2009 5:36 pm

If we must, a simple solution to NFL overtime

I don't think it needs any changes.  It's a fair rule.  Both teams know going into EVERY game that if they don't outscore each other in regulation, the game may come down to a coin toss and one team might not get the ball.  So make more plays in regulation.  Take more risks in regulation.  Stop the other team more often in regulation.  Actually try and block an extra point or FG or punt in regulation.

You don't hear Tony Dungy or Peyton Manning moaning about not getting the ball.  Just the Colts' fans and of course the casual NFL fans that show up every postseason, see something they deem unfit and cry wolf for the league to tear up the way they have settled tied games after regulation for a long time.

The college system is a complete sham.  It's not even football what they do in overtime.  It's fabricated excitement, i.e., it's Mickey Mouse.

The NFL system is absolutely fair.  When my team loses in overtime, I don't moan about the rules, I look back and try to identify anywhere from three to 10 plays where they could have done better and won in regulation.

Moaning about overtime rules is like the Seahawk fans still moaning about the officiating in SBXL.  Your team still lost by 11 points and couldn't get a first down to save their lives after halftime.  One or two calls the other way was not the difference.  Same thing in overtime...the coin toss didn't cause your team to lose.  Your team's play caused your team to lose.

Since: Nov 10, 2008
Posted on: January 5, 2009 4:56 pm

If we must, a simple solution to NFL overtime

It takes a lot to change the minds of the NFL, but this rule stinks and should be reviewed.  At least give a team one chance at sudden death to scrore.  If a team scores a field make it only a field goal, and then when the opposition tries to score, they can go for the touchdown to win and the field goal for another tie forcing a second overtime.

Most sports have gone into multiple overtimes more than once, which is more than it has for the NFL.  Look at Hockey, Basketball, and Baseball all use equal tries to win a game.  A game is both offense and defense, and the current overtime strategy only a llows a team to use one and not both, ruining the game.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or