Overtime Rule Change is Overdue

his past weekend was crazy if you are a football fan—starting on Saturday afternoon with the Titans, vs. Bengals. Ryan Tannehill threw a pick with 21 seconds left which allowed Joe Borrow to attain field goal range and Evan McPherson, the kicker, hit the field goal to win the game. Later that day, Aaron Rodgers’ Packers faced Jimmy Garoppolo’s 49ers in a cold, snowy Lambeau. With the 49ers being down 3-7 with 3 minutes left, the Packers had to punt it in their own end zone—but the 49ers blocked it and scored. Then, Jimmy G. drove another game-winning field goal for Robbie Gould. 

   On Sunday afternoon, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers took on the LA Rams. In the middle of the 3rd quarter, the score was 3-27 with the Rams in the lead. Brady came back once again, but with 43 seconds on the clock. Mathew Stafford and the Triple Crown leader Cooper Kupp made 2 great passes. Matt Gay then made a field goal to win the game for the Rams. In one weekend, the NFL saw 3 game-winning drives, 3 game-winning field goals and 3 wins for the visiting team. This is all before one of the most thrilling games this season, to be played later that evening.

   If you thought the Raiders v. Chargers game was crazy, when Justin Herbert went 6-6 in 4th downs, this game-tying drive was one of the best drives I’ve ever seen. In this game, there were 25 points scored in the last 2 minutes. Gabriel Davis was a star in those 2 minutes, catching 2 amazing touchdowns, which allowed Stefon Diggs’ amazing 2-foot 2-point conversion, and Josh Allen going for 2 4th downs. The Chief’s offense had something to say about Mahomes throwing a 64-yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill. By far the most defining moment of the game was the game-tying drive from Mahomes with 13 seconds on the clock. Hill and Travis Kelce made career-defining catches. Harrison Butker nailed a 49-yard field goal to tie the game. The game was offensively loaded, with both quarterbacks playing stellar games. 

   The NFL is infamous for its overtime rules. Whichever team gets the ball first is able to score and end the game, essentially creating a sudden death scenario. These rules force the decision of the game into the defense’s hands. For teams that rule the offensive side of the field, this can be devastating. That’s why when the coin toss happened and the Chiefs got the ball, fans knew that the game was essentially over. Travis Kelce scored a touchdown to win. 

   This was a scene with which many were familiar, especially in the playoffs. Look back at Super Bowl LI with the Patriots v. Falcons and the infamous 28-3 comeback. It came down to overtime and a coin toss—Tom Brady got the ball and won the game. Matt Ryan didn’t even have a chance to answer. Josh Allen didn’t have a chance, either. This led to duress from many fans who had watched Allen answer every score that evening. Many argue that college football has better overtime rules. The ball starts on the opponent’s 20-yard line. There is no time clock but the other offense gets a chance at a drive no matter what the outcome of the previous possession is. 

   On the opposite side of the spectrum, Texas A&M v. LSU serves as an example. The game went to 8 overtimes. While not ideal, many think that it’s at least better than the NFL. Commissioner Roger Godell could change the rules, potentially by giving each team 5 minutes on the clock for their offense. Whatever that offense does, the other team can match. If the 5 minutes are up, there will be a turnover on downs. If there is a time limit, it provides more pressure and “hurry-up” offenses can be shown. That is also shown in the Cowboys v. 49ers game where the game ended because the Cowboys couldn’t stop the clock in enough time. The main problem is finding the sweet spot for overtime football. Football is a difficult sport to play in overtime, whereas sports like hockey, soccer and basketball are good since the offenses and defenses can change without incident. Football, on the other hand, has to clear the field in order to sub their offensive, defensive and even special teams lines. It is a little unfortunate that one of the best playoff games ever in the NFL ended with calls for a rule change that has been discussed for a while and has not been implemented. Many believe that these playoff games proved now is the time. 

   The coming games should be fun to watch, and they will be the first without Rodgers or Brady in 12 years. Now, young quarterbacks have an opportunity to write their name in the sport’s history. These playoffs have shown the value of a quarterback. These coming weeks will show Burrow, Stafford, Grappalo and Mahome’s ability to win championships for their respective franchises.