You see it on Twitter, you read the headlines, and you see it in articles. “NFL makes overtime rule the same in regular season as it is in the postseason.”
And it’s just not true.
Sure, teams will no longer be able to win a regular season game by taking the opening kickoff of overtime and driving to a field goal. Of course, teams have always had to ability to prevent that from happening by playing something called “defense” but evidently a lot of the game’s movers and shakers thought that wasn’t “fair” (while simultaneously believing that it is “fair” to penalize teams millions of dollars in salary cap space an hour before free agency starts).
Yes, a team will get a possession if its opponent scores a field goal off of the overtime kickoff in the regular season just like they have in playoff games for the past two seasons. But the rules are not the same.
In the playoffs if each team puts up a field goal they will continue playing until one of them scores again.
In the regular season if each team puts up a field goal they will stop playing after 15 minutes of play. And the game will end in a tie.
And the football watching public hates ties. In high school and college football the overtime system doesn’t permit any ties. They line up at the 25 yard line and keep doing that until someone wins.
That system has plenty of flaws and I would not want to see it in the NFL. But no ties is a big plus in its favor.
Now, in the regular season, Team A can take the overtime kickoff and crank out a four-minute drive to a field goal. They then kick off to Team B and that team also takes four minutes off the clock and boots a field goal. You then have sudden death overtime but for only seven minutes. Each team gets a possession, drives for a couple of first downs, punts, and the game ends in a tie.
It won’t happen every time but it will happen. And when it happens the 1:00 game will be going over into the 4:00 games or the late afternoon games will be going into the Sunday night games and night games will be dragging on until midnight.
Playing longer increases the chances of players injuries. Also, those overtime kickoff are being made from the 35, making a touchback and a long field for the team getting possession more likely.
So remember how it was when you looked at playoff possibilities and could pretty much ignore the “or tie” part of the scenarios because those days are gone. Instead of a tie every couple of years we’ll see several every year.
All in the name of making things “fair.”
Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.