Tim Benz: Proposed NFL overtime changes are unnecessary
One of the big debates at the NFL owners meetings is what to do with the league’s overtime procedure.
The Chiefs advanced a rule change proposal for overtime. Let’s not kid ourselves. The Chiefs did this because they lost in overtime of the AFC title game thanks to Tom Brady marching his Patriots down the field for a touchdown to win it on one possession.
Brady and the Patriots did the same thing to Atlanta in the Super Bowl in 2017.
Kansas City desires to implement a system where every team gets at least one touch in OT, even if the first team to possess the ball scores a touchdown.
That’d be a change from the current rule. It was adopted for postseason games in 2010 and went into effect for regular-season games in 2012.
After this happened.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) January 8, 2018
As it stands right now, a touchdown on the first overtime possession ends the game. The team that is on defense first doesn’t get the ball on offense unless it gains possession or limits the first club to a field goal.
Yes. Kansas City’s idea seems fairer. But consider this. Particularly in a high-scoring game where the offenses are in control, is there much difference between Team A scoring a TD on the first possession, followed by Team B scoring a TD on the second possession and Team A winning via a field goal on the third possession?
Is that any more, or less, equitable? In other words, if my team goes on a six-minute touchdown drive in overtime, then your team goes on a six-minute touchdown drive in overtime, and my team gets the ball back once more to kick a field goal with three minutes left, we’re still in the same pickle, aren’t we?
At some point, the quest for equality of offensive possessions is likely going to give out. It’s not baseball with guaranteed matching innings. There’s a clock.
The league could simply adopt the college system. In the college ranks, teams have to match each other to keep the game going until someone can’t.
However, based on increasingly prolific NFL offenses and the superiority of kicking in the pros versus college, that could take forever. In the NFL, even if you move the start of possessions back to midfield, that still may be too easy for offenses.
The best answer in this potential scenario may be to outlaw field goals entirely in overtime and make teams go possession-for-possession from the 25-yard or 30-yard line — touchdown or bust.
Here’s another strand of the debate. Should the NFL’s overtime change between the regular season and the playoffs?
Some have argued to keep the current format or go back to the old sudden death method of yesteryear during the regular season. But, when the playoffs come around, give both teams a shot at a possession in overtime regardless if the coin-toss winner scores a touchdown. I’m against the idea of splitting the difference between the regular season and playoffs.
Overtime should be uniform between the two. With only 16 games to play, there is so much value on each regular-season contest; there shouldn’t be any differentiation.
I understand the concerns by some who say the league’s television windows would be compromised, as would some teams who have to play Thursday nights after a long overtime affair. Unfortunately, every eventuality can’t be protected. So I chose to preserve the sanctity of wins and losses in a preciously short regular season.
I’m content with overtime the way it is. Heck, I was OK with sudden death. If the league wants to extend it so that both teams get a touch, fine.
Let’s not whine when some team wins with two possessions to one, though, if a change is written.
Who am I kidding? You know we will.