NFL Overtime: The Time Has Come For A Change

Jan 24, 2022

The NFL has had 11 Playoff games go into overtime since the new overtime rule was implemented 11 years ago.  And in 10 of those 11 games, the team which won the coin flip has gone on to win the game.  In seven of the 11 games, that team won on the first possession in overtime by scoring a touchdown, so the opposing team never touched the football on offense.

It happened again last night in what was — for my money — the greatest NFL game of all-time.  But was it?  Could it have been “the greatest” with that hollow ending of the Bills never getting a chance in overtime?

In 2019, the Kansas City Chiefs proposed various overtime changes, including a rule which would make it mandatory that each team possess the football at least once in overtime.  That rule was not approved by the Competition Committee.

But there is a possible change in the rule to which the Competition Committee might be amenable.  I wrote about it over two years ago, and I wanted to re-visit it now, in light of this Bills/Chiefs masterpiece of a game.

I believe an NFL team should have to score eight points, not six, in order to walk off the field in overtime.  And, importantly, a team would not HAVE to go for two points after a touchdown.  It could choose to kick the extra point, and shift the burden on scoring a two-point conversion to the opposing team, should it also score a touchdown on its subsequent possession.

The reason this rule change would be beneficial is that we KNOW that two-point conversions succeeded at a 49.6% rate this past season in the NFL.  So, there would be much less than a 50% chance that a team which won the coin flip would “walk-off” the field with a victory, and leave the loser of the coin flip without an opportunity to touch the ball.  And, at the end of the day, isn’t that a much more satisfying outcome.  Even the announcers last night said, before Kansas City’s game-winning drive, that it was going to be a “coin-flip, walk-off” game.  We all knew what was coming.  And there was really nothing that Buffalo’s gassed defense (ranked #1 in regular season) could do to stop it.

But if Buffalo had just two yards of field (plus an end zone) to defend — a much smaller space — I would bet on Buffalo successfully defending a two-point conversion attempt.

I hope the NFL can give consideration to this idea, as the time has come for an Overtime rules change.

Good luck,

Al McMordie