The NFL's New Overtime Rule Doesn't Solve the Overtime Problem

David Kindervater@TheDGKCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2010

ATLANTA - AUGUST 22: Referee Ron Winter tosses the coin as the Atlanta Falcons host the Tennessee Titans at the Georgia Dome on August 22, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

By a vote of 28-4 at the National Football League's Annual Meeting yesterday, a new playoff overtime rule was approved that goes something like this: If a team wins the coin toss in OT and proceeds to kick a field goal, the other team gets the ball with a chance to answer that score. If the game becomes tied again after that next series, play will continue under the current sudden death rules (first team to score wins). Should the team winning the coin toss immediately score a touchdown—game over.

OK, so this is at least an improvement on the current sudden death format where the luck of the coin toss favors roughly 60/40. And it makes the game more competitive and interesting. But here are a couple thoughts:

1.) If this is going to be a rule change, why not make the same rule standard practice in the regular season as well as the playoffs? I don't like separate rules for the playoffs.

2.) Better yet, just let the teams "play football." In other words, play a full quarter. Of course, I know some will argue that this brutal contact sport is too grueling to force teams to play a fifth quarter. But why not add a 10-minute quarter where the rules are the same as the rest of the game?

It seems the NFL is applying a quick fix on this overtime "problem" rather than solving it. They're making it a little bit better. And that's a step in the right direction.

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But if they're going to make an important change that ultimately decides the outcome of a game, shouldn't they make a change that will stand the test of time? I don't think this rule change will. I think it will be revised in the near future. And if they still don't get it right then, it will probably be revised again.


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