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Coaches frown upon change to OT

| Thursday, March 25, 2010

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Steelers president Art Rooney II smiled when he called it skillful "maneuvering."

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton wasn't as charitable Wednesday when discussing the most significant rule change to emerge from the NFL owners' meetings.

Payton had as much a problem with the method as he did the change that makes it harder to win postseason games on the first possession of overtime.

"That kind of got slipped in the backdoor," Payton said yesterday morning at an NFC coaches' breakfast.

Payton and other coaches were on the course at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club on Tuesday afternoon when the owners voted, 28-4, in favor of modifying overtime in playoff games.

Payton said he had counted seven 'no' votes among coaches in his foursome as well as a nearby one.

A vote on the change for which commissioner Roger Goodell had lobbied came a day earlier than expected, surprising both coaches and owners.

"I don't know how it was 28-4," Payton said of the measure that many thought would generate a closer vote. "Honestly, I hate the policy."

Goodell defended the timing of the vote, saying there had been enough discussion to decide the matter.

"It's probably no secret that there are certain owners who may have a different view than their coaches," Goodell said. "But there are 32 clubs and 32 votes, and this may not come as a news flash but the owners have the vote."

Goodell said there is a strong consensus among the owners to extend the change in overtime to the regular season, something that could happen in 2011.

The 2010 postseason will serve as something of a test run for the rule. The change gives both teams at least one possession in overtime unless the team that wins the coin toss scores a touchdown the first time it has the ball.

The NFL competition committee recommended the change because of how accurate kickers have become and the fact teams kick off from their 30-yard line instead of the 35.

From 1994-2009, teams that got the ball first in overtime won 59 percent of the time, according to the competition committee.

Some coaches, including the Steelers' Mike Tomlin, weren't in favor of the change because it makes overtime different in the postseason than it is in the regular season.

The altered approach to strategy in postseason playoff games is something Tomlin and others said will have to be addressed with the players.

"You can explain it, explain it, explain it, but once again you have to practice things, whether it's a two-minute drill or come-from-behind or go 80 yards or red zone," Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "It's got to be examined. I think probably there's some unforeseeable unknowns in the rules."

Added Payton, "I don't want to have to explain this. My sister is just getting to understand the (video replay) challenge system."

Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith said he supported the change because it "puts the onus on teams to score touchdowns."

Goodell said one reason he strongly supported the measure is because it will appeal to fans.

"The commissioner made one statement to us about it, which was very interesting, that as he travels around the country, that's the No. 1 thing the fans want to talk about," New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of overtime. "When he said that, and you understand their vote, then I think it's obviously going to be good for the game."

Additional Information:

Changing the landscape

Overtime will be different for playoff games and the Super Bowl, as each team will get at least one possession unless a team scores a touchdown on the opening possession of the extra period. If the teams trade field goals or neither one scores on the first two possessions, the game will be decided via sudden death.

Two playoff games last season were decided in overtime:

NFC wild-card game

Cardinals 51, Packers 45

Packers win the coin toss but lose the game. Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby returns a fumble 17 yards for a touchdown on the first possession of overtime.

NFC Championship Game

Saints 31, Vikings 28

Saints force overtime and then punch their ticket to the Super Bowl on the first possession of the extra period as Garrett Hartley splits the uprights on a 40-yard field goal attempt. The Vikings, ironically, were one of four teams to vote against the new overtime format.

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