News and Notes

NFL Discusses Plan To Change Overtime In Playoffs

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The NFL is talking about a plan that would change the way overtime works during the postseason, according to league spokesman Greg Aiello.

The proposed idea would mean both teams would get the football at least once during an overtime session in postseason play – unless the first team that gets the ball scores a touchdown.

At the league meetings beginning on March 21 in Orlando, Florida, this will be among the many issues discussed by the competition committee and may come to vote.

The current overtime format, which has been in existence since 1974, creates controversy often during the postseason due to star players not being able to save their team from elimination after losing the initial coin toss (i.e. Peyton Manning during the ’08 playoffs and Brett Favre in this year’s NFC Championship game).

While the current overtime structure might need a change, I think people miss the boat on this one. The problem comes in the kickoff and subsequent return, not necessarily who wins the coin toss.  When the NFL decided to move kickoffs back to the 30 yardline as opposed to the 35, I thought that greatly impacted the overtime issue.

Teams with slightly above average kick returners have a better chance to win the game right off the bat because of their starting field position. It’s all in the starting field position, not necessarily the coin toss itself.

During the NFC title game, New Orleans’ Pierre Thomas returned the overtime kickoff to the Saints’ 39. They drove all of 38 yards to kick their game-winning field goal to put them in the Super Bowl.

As Newsday’s Bob Glauber points out, teams that won the overtime coin toss only have won 53 percent of the time. That spans the 445 overtime games in NFL history.

Are the overtime rules outdated? Perhaps. Much like hockey, there should be a different set of OT rules for regular season and postseason. Ultimately, for a team to lose a coin toss and not at least have a chance to answer is a bit ridiculous in my opinion.

The league has been able to skirt this issue for quite sometime. However, after the ’09 NFC title game and the near disaster that occurred in the Super Bowl (what if Tracy Porter never intercepted that pass and the Colts went to OT with them?), enough is enough.

It is time to pull the trigger on a change.

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