March 20, 2007

Overtime after time

Posted in NFL and other lesser sports at 2:55 pm by loolar

The current NFL rules for overtime are just a crime. Peter King of Sports Illustrated goes into it in depth in his Monday Morning Quarterback column here and the Tuesday reader mailbag edition here, but I don’t think he goes far enough.

Basically, for those not familiar with NFL rules, if regulation ends in a tie score, a single extra quarter is played, with sudden death scoring; i.e., whoever scores first, wins. The quarter begins with a coin toss to determine who gets the first possession.

The trouble is, there is an overwhelming trend that whoever wins the coin toss wins the game (more than a third on that first possession). After all, you only have to get into field goal range (for most kickers, the 30 yard line is within reach – this yields a 47 yard attempt, 10 yards for the end zone and 7 yards for the ball to be hiked back from the line of scrimmage to the holder).

The current tweak – and I do mean tweak – to the system under consideration by the NFL competition committee is to add five yards to the opening kickoff position. So instead of kicking from the 30, kicking teams would kick from the 35, ostensibly pinning the receiving team farther back on the field, and forcing them to work that much harder to get into field goal range.

So what? Boring.

Now, one of King’s readers said that if championships are won on defense, then defense should be able to win in overtime. I don’t disagree. But does that really preclude an enforced two possession overtime? Why not give both teams the ball at least once? This would motivate teams to go for touchdowns, because the second possessing team could far more easily tie the game again if you only get a field goal.

The real solution is getting both teams the ball once. Make overtime count – and not a matter of tossing a coin. If neither or both teams score, then they continue, back and forth. If it ends in a tie, the game is a tie, same as the current rules (if no team scores, there is no subsequent overtime).

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2 Comments »

  1. Kris Kelso said,

    The college system for overtime works. It is essentially what you describe in the last paragraph. I believe that the change should be that the teams start at their 10 instead of the opposing teams 20 like in college. Make the team drive and get first downs but give botht eams the ball. Even with a kickoff would be great. 2 Kickoffs and match scores, if you don’t you lose.

  2. calzone said,

    I’ve come to the conclusion that college ball is about 87.32 times as exciting as NFL

    …and it’s on a lot more…

    I just relegated NFL to background entertainment when there’s no college ball on


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