Harrison: If you'll wait for it, read a better idea here for NFL overtime - Albuquerque Journal

Harrison: If you’ll wait for it, read a better idea here for NFL overtime

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen walks off the field after last Sunday’s loss to Kansas City in overtime. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Last things first: Imagine if ties in football weren’t regarded as sooooooooo 1968. Imagine if last Sunday’s Bills-Chiefs game took place in the regular season in a world with no overtime. That Harrison (no relation, thanks) Butker long field goal to tie it at 36 and end it would be the ultimate mic drop to the greatest NFL display many of us have seen.

Alas, we just can’t have nice things anymore.

Instead there followed an anticlimactic overtime, four minutes and 15 seconds of it anyway, before the Chiefs scored yet again, making the final 42-36 and eliciting hue and cry against the NFL’s tiebreaking rules.

It’s injustice, many wailed, since Kansas City and the wondrous Patrick Mahomes got the football, but Buffalo and its equally sublime Josh Allen did not.

It’s like if a guy homers in the top of the 10th inning in baseball, and they call the game … is among the most inane of arguments.

Not at all. Each team going to bat and play in the field in the perfect symmetry of an inning, which is integral to the great fairness of a great sport.

Breaking news: You have no absolute right ever to the football. You just have the right to receive the kickoff. Better handle that responsibly.

You don’t even own the right to possess the basketball after you get dunked on. You just have the right to inbound it. Handle with care.

The Bills had the chance to win the coin flip (the epitome of chance, obviously) and then a chance to actually stop the other team.

Yeah, we knew that wasn’t going to happen after all the ping-ponging – 25 points being scored after the two-minute warning, which should have been “Dudes, cover your eyes if you care at all about defense.”

Josh Allen seemed to know it best. If you didn’t notice, find a YouTube replay of the overtime coin toss. The body language after losing the flip, losing the chance to get the ball first, losing … hope. A fait accompli as it were.

There are broader problems here. We don’t know how to resolve our differences. And we don’t know how to resolve our football ties.

In fact, we shouldn’t, in large part. While 1968 was probably the worst year until the Coming of COVID, at least a team didn’t lose unless outscored over 60 minutes. And teams that failed to outscore the other over 60 minutes couldn’t finagle a win.

But the aspect of a tie, and the decisions on whether to settle for or risk losing in order to avoid one, began to generate too much heat for NFL executives and general managers – and college athletic directors and big-time head coaches for that matter – who make more money than God but don’t want any more heat.

So here we are.

Yes, that’s digression. Obviously in any postseason, games must be untied, one team must advance.

As far as the current postseason overtime rules: Teams play 15-minute periods until there’s a winner. A touchdown or safety on the first possession wins the game. If the score is tied after each team’s first possession, either because neither scored or each kicked a field goal, next score wins.

You may know that the NFL has at least contemplated something different.

• In 2019, the Chiefs made a proposal after losing to New England in the AFC Championship Game. This Tom Brady guy drove 75 yards for a touchdown on the first possession, enacting the sudden-death touchdown rule. The Chiefs suggested possession for a team even after it gave up the TD, and that the team winning the pregame coin toss got dibs on OT as well.

• Last year, Baltimore and Philadelphia put up an even more innovative idea called “spot and choose.” No kickoff to start overtime. The winner of the overtime coin toss would choose where to spot the ball to start overtime. The loser of the toss would choose whether to take possession at the designated spot or defer to play defense. The first team to score would win.

In that scenario, the Chiefs offense on Sunday might have had to start overtime at their own 1, for example. Would it have mattered? The way Kansas City was rolling, it could have taken the ball back in St. Louis and still scored.

Here’s a concept:

• In overtime, Team A first receives possession. If it gives up a defensive score, game over. If it scores a touchdown – and gets a two-point conversion – game over.

Anything else, play on. Team B gets possession with this caveat – if then trailing, it must beat Team A’s score. A TD beats a field goal, 7 beats 6, 8 beats 7, etc. No corresponding re-tying the score allowed. And if both defenses hold, next score of any kind wins. We’re here to break the deadlock, after all, not to play deeper into a frigid January night.

Team A might have to think instead of reflexively choosing to receive the overtime kickoff. I like the implicit angst for coaches who score touchdowns and must weigh trying to end the game with a 2-point PAT – but anything other than that, having to send its defense out there to close it.

I like that Team B still has to stop Team A at the outset. Listen, if you give up a TD and a 2-point PAT, just take the L.

It’s fairer than what we’ve got. Would it fully satisfy? No. Maybe we’ll have a great final three games without needing minutes 61 and beyond before heading into rules-tweaking season.

Meanwhile, got a better idea?

Home » From the newspaper » Harrison: If you’ll wait for it, read a better idea here for NFL overtime


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