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Polian weighs in OT proposal

Posted by Albert Breer  March 21, 2010 06:39 PM

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Since 1994, 59.8 percent of teams winning the overtime coin toss wound up winning the game, and 34.4 percent of games have been won on the first possession of the extra period, with 26.8 percent being won on the first possession with a field goal.

The year is significant because it was in '94 that kickoffs were moved back from the 35 to the 30.

Another factor was the improved accuracy and range of field-goal kickers, allowing for shorter and shorter game-winning drives in overtime. Polian cited statistics that said that from 1974-93, kickers hit on 54.8 percent of their field-goal attempts from 40-49 yards, and 32.9 percent of tries from 50-plus. Since 1994, those numbers have risen to 68.6 percent and 51.4 percent, respectively.

"This rule allows the defense to play defense, because if you hold them to a field goal, you’ve got a shot," Polian said. "So it does allow you to play defense – It actually forces you to play defense. As opposed to long kickoff return, first down, no yardage; second down, short yardage; third down, long pass, pass interference; Field goal, game over. This forces you to play defense. If you can’t play defense, you’re going to get scored upon."

One thing I thought was important to ask was why this wasn't being voted upon for all games, rather than just playoff games. Polian's answer was simple: The NFLPA was against extending overtimes out, and with player safety in mind, they decided to limit snaps where they could while making advancements.

"We listened to the players a great deal. There was a concern (about lengthening games), and we recognized it," Polian said.

He also notes that overtime rules are already different for the playoffs (In the regular season, there's just one OT period, where in the playoffs, they're unlimited). And in the end, making sure things are done right when it counts most was paramount.

"In regular season, there’s always next week," Polian said. "In playoffs, there’s no next week."

We'll keep you posted on this one.
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