When it comes to the NFL overtime rules I must admit I am not a fan. For 60% of the teams since 1994 the OT has been decided by a coin toss. That’s a hefty winning percentage for simply having a strategy of “Heads” or “Tails.”
For us fans who have disliked the archaic NFL OT rules we just had to take it on the chin and wonder what it would be like if our team had a chance, any chance, to get on the field in overtime and try to score instead of going home without so much as one offensive snap. We complained but it did not seem like the NFL had any interest in changing the rules.
But on Tuesday the NFL Owners took a step in the right direction and approved rule changes that would alter the ‘sudden death’ overtime and allow both teams to have the possibility to score. It’s not perfect but it’s better than the old version.
Here is how it works. First of all, it only works in the postseason. Regular season games will stay the same for now and that’s a shame. I would have liked to have seen these rules apply to all the games.
Second, the rules only kick in if the team which wins the coin toss scores a field goal. Not a touchdown. If that team scores a touchdown the game is over. If that team only gets a field goal then the opposing team will get the ball kicked back to them. This would, in theory, help prevent a team from getting a decent kick return, tossing a couple of passes and then kicking a long field goal to win the game.
Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian and Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee, have stated that the Vikings-Saints game in the NFC Championship last year in which that scenario happened played a key role in the decision to look at rule changes.
Brett Favre and the Vikings went home without ever touching the ball in OT. And a similar fate was handed to Peyton Manning the year before in a Wild Card Playoff Game against San Diego.
What is odd is that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf was one of the four teams to vote against the rule changes. He stated that he objected to the rules not being consistent through the regular season and playoffs and he is right.
While we finally get a chance to see an OT not decided by a randmo flip of a coin, it does seem less than satisfying to have it only in the postseason.