Assessing the overtime rules


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Lots of overtime talk now throughout the NFL. And SI.com’s Peter King addresses it in Monday Morning Quarterback today, detailing the proposal that’ll be on the table this offseason.

In a nutshell: The only way an overtime game can end on the first possession of overtime is if a touchdown is scored. If the first team to get the ball kicks a field goal or fails to score, then it becomes sudden at that point. Makes a lot of sense too.

But I’m not completely on board. For a couple reasons. First, I do think there’d be loopholes for teams to try to work (ex.: using an onside kick to after scoring said field goal to circumvent the other team’s chance at the ball). I’m sure coaches would find them, and I think a bastardized version of the game could wind up emerging, and the league might find itself chasing its tail to fix problems that pop up.

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There’s a second issue I have that’s more fundamental. I hear all the time how the college overtime system stinks because it takes one pretty significant facet of football — special teams — out of the game. Well, the above plan would remove the clock-management, and really game-management, aspect away from the competition.

My solution? I think Bill Belichick spoke on this at some point, and it makes a lot of sense: Go to a shorter overtime period and play the whole freakin’ thing out. That way, the final period is like the previous four, and all of the things you take into account in the first 60 minutes are in play when everything is on the line.


Say you play a single, 10-minute OT period in the regular season, and play them until you have a winner in the playoffs. Sound good?
It probably doesn’t to the players. They’ll see it as more time on the field, which means more injury risk, particularly when you factor in the fatigue factor. But look at last year’s overtime games, with the end point in parentheses …
Week 1: STEELERS 13, Titans 10 (1st possession, 4:32)
Week 4: BENGALS 23, Browns 20 (7th, 14:56)
Week 5: Cowboys 26 CHIEFS 20 (4th, 6:27)
Week 5: BRONCOS 20, Patriots 17 (1st, 4:51)
Week 6: JAGUARS 23, Rams 20 (1st, 7:00)
Week 6: Bills 16, JETS 13 (6th, 12:16)
Week 11: CHIEFS 27, Steelers 24 (2nd, 6:32)
Week 11: GIANTS 34, Falcons 31 (1st, 3:54)
Week 12: RAVENS 20, Steelers 17 (4th, 8:18)
Week 13: Saints 33, REDSKINS 30 (1st, 6:29)
Week 15: TITANS 27, Dolphins 24 (2nd, 3:42)
Week 16: Buccaneers 20, SAINTS 17 (1st, 6:54)
Week 16: BEARS 36, Vikings 30 (5th, 5:45)
… Eight of these 13 games went at least six minutes. Plus, if you go to 10 minutes, you eliminate the possibility of those extra five minutes (in the regular season) and add the element of teams bleeding clock, which will cut down on the amount of plays.
Either way, this is an interesting debate. What do you guys think?

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