By Austin Driscoll
The National Football League may be changing the way overtime is handled in the playoffs starting this upcoming 2010 season.
Under the new rule being proposed at the end of the month, each team would have a chance to score instead of it being a sudden death situation, but only sort of.
The winner of the coin toss would have to score a touchdown to win the game. That team could still settle for a field goal but then the opposing team would be given the chance to tie with its own field goal or it could win by scoring a touchdown.
If the score is tied, both teams do it all over again until a clear winner comes out on top. Essentially the first one to score a touchdown would win.
This rule will not be applied to regular season, just the postseason. The overtime loss that the Vikings suffered to the Saints sparked the discussion of a rule change.
I’m not so sure the Vikings loss can be blamed on the overtime rules or the fact that Brett Favre is known to throw game-losing interceptions like he did against the Saints with 12 seconds left in regulation.
Green Bay also suffered an overtime loss at Arizona in the playoffs this past year, but the Packers lost when the Cardinals scored a defensive touchdown.
Two years ago, Indianapolis lost in San Diego but the rule change wouldn’t have helped the Colts because the Chargers scored a touchdown.
Overtime was introduced to the league in 1974 but the playoffs have always used the sudden death format that is still used today, at least for now.
The NFL’s version of sudden death is exactly how it sounds. The referee flips a coin and whoever wins, gets the ball first in overtime. Whichever team scores any amount of points first automatically wins. The current rule includes field goals, which is the way a lot of overtime games are won.
Some argue that you can’t tell which is the better team unless both offenses are given the chance to score. The reality of the situation is that the losing team dug its own grave. If one team can’t manage to beat the other in regulation then it should be sudden death.
I can see why some see this to be unfair but in my opinion it is brilliant. It really makes teams battle for the win, which puts on a better show for the fans. It puts heavy pressure on both sides of the ball.
Teams that keep this in mind will battle their hardest through all four quarters of play and won’t have to worry about losing by a cheap field goal in overtime.
The rule isn’t perfect but neither is the new one. There are going to be controversies in all aspects of every sport but one thing is certain: the team who plays the hardest will win the game.