Overhauling NFL Overtime

I know we’re a Philly sports blog, but we do care about the leagues that our teams play in.  Last Sunday, if you tuned into the NFC Championship, you saw that the Saints and Vikings went to overtime, for the chance to go to the Super Bowl.  The Saints won the overtime coin toss, and the Vikings never got the ball, as New Orleans kicked a game winning field goal.  The question remains: Is NFL overtime fair?

Detractors of changing the current setup could point to this recent game and say the Vikings should have not fumbled so much, or called the different side of a coin.  The fact is still there that 60% of coin flip winners win the game.  In a high magnitude game such as a Conference Championship, a coin flip shouldn’t decide the outcome of the game.  Sure, many times the first offensive team commits a turnover (thanks, Brett Favre) or has to punt, but it’s not always the case.

It is also said that the league doesn’t want longer games because it’s not good for the health of the players or good for TV.  I agree with the league on not being good for players, as these guys get beat up so much during regulation.  However, not being “good for TV”?  People love drama, and NFL overtime IS drama.  People would tune in, especially in the case of an epic struggle.  What’s not good for TV is a commercial break every five minutes.

Just look at the other three sports, all three sports give both teams a chance to score in their respective overtimes.  The NFL should, too.  My idea would be this: coin toss to decide who gets the ball, kickoff, let one team drive, if they score, then kickoff and see if the other team can drive down the field and tie it up.  Basically it would be a modified NCAA rule, but you’d have to earn field position (instead of starting at the opponents’ 20).  If the first team throws an interception that is run back for a touchdown, game over.  It does leave the possiblity of an endless game, but highly unlikely teams will either keep scoring, or keep shutting the other down.

Anyway, I doubt the NFL will consider changing their format regardless of reading this blog entry or not.  Either way, the NFL is the most popular league in the country, and not having both teams get the ball in overtime won’t change that.


Both Donovan McNabb & Quintin Mikell are heading to Miami.  No, not to play in the Super Bowl, but the Pro Bowl on Sunday.  McNabb is replacing Saints QB Drew Brees and Mikell will be replacing Saints S Roman Harper.  Apparently, Sheldon Brown, a second alternate at cornerback, turned down the opportunity to play in the game, citing personal reasons. The game will be 8:00 Sunday night on ESPN, for those of you who are interested.


2 responses to “Overhauling NFL Overtime

  1. David January 26, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    While I favor overhauling the overtime rules, I must correct you. The coin flip didn’t win the game for the Saints, a well kicked field goal did. The reason it so often turns out that way is that the defenses are often exhausted by the time regulation is done. But I think they should just play an extra quarter, rather than sudden death. If it ends up tied, then so be it.

    The Vikings should have won the game straight up, but for fumbles and interceptions, they didn’t.

  2. John Russo January 26, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    I agree, David. I do like Dan’s idea of an over time solution though. It isn’t a copy of the NCAA’s format but it’s similar and fair. Plus it will keep McNabb from worrying about ties.

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