At the risk of this site becoming a sports blog, with a particular focus on the NFL, I'd like to add my thoughts on a topic related to yesterday's playoff game between Green Bay and Arizona. Full disclosure, I only watched a few plays of the game. I tuned in right before the end of the first half with the Cardinals up 24-7. Figuring another blowout was in progress, my girlfriend (who is a Bears fan with a distaste for the Packers) and I switched to a movie. Low and behold, I checked ESPN after the game was over, and it turns out the game was a barn burner. The Packers rallied in the second half and forced the game into overtime. On the fourth play from scrimmage in the fifth quarter, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked and fumbled the ball which was returned by the Cards for a touchdown. The Cardinals won the game, 51-45, without their offensive taking the field in overtime.
A lot of people (including Bob Costas) have a problem with the NFL's current sudden death format for overtime. The argument is that there is an inherent unfairness with the possibility that one team receives the ball and drives down the field to score and win the game. The most popular suggestion for resolving this issue is requiring that both teams get at least one possession in OT. The variety of other suggestions include requiring a touchdown to win in OT instead of just a field goal, or playing a full 15-minute period (which in the playoffs could then be followed by another quarter and then yet another and so on). Any of those suggestions would be much better than what is used in college football where games can go on forever.
I am perfectly OK with the NFL's current overtime format. Football is a team game, and the defense and special teams should play their part to win games. If one team wins the coin flip and promptly returns the kickoff for a touchdown, I don't see any problem. The other team simply should have done a better job on kickoff coverage. To somebody who supports the proposal that both teams should get possession in OT, my question is what about the Packers-Cardinals game? The Cardinals won without their offensive having possession of the ball. To put it another way, the Packers lost without their defensive getting a chance to make a play in overtime. Under the both-teams-get-possession proposal, would the rules require that after the Cards' defense scored, the Packers kick off to the Cards and force the Cards to play offense in order to give the defense of the Packers a chance to also make a play? That might have been unlikely considering the Arena League score and the fact that the Cards only had one turnover in the game (a lost fumble by Larry Fitzgerald), but I think it would have only been fair.