Tuesday, February 9, 2010

(Over) Time Is on My Side

I have previously posted twice (here and the follow-up here) on the NFL's overtime policy. The NFL playoffs have now ended since those posts. The NFC Championship Game, which had the Minnesota Vikings visiting New Orleans Saints, ended with the Saints kicking a field game on the first possession of overtime. I stand by my previous opinions on overtime. In that game, both teams had amble opportunity to win the game during the sixty minutes of regulation. Also, the Vikings had the number six defense in the NFL led by All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen, so it is not like they had chopped liver out on the field.

It was also interesting that at one point in the fourth quarter, there was a possibility of Super Bowl XLIV being the first to be decided by overtime. The Saints were leading by a touchdown, 24-17, and the Colts were driving down the field. Luckily, Payton Manning saved the world from Armageddon by throwing an interception to Saints cornerback Tracy Porter who returned it for the game-icing touchdown.

I stand by my opinion that the current overtime format is completely fair. However, I am coming around to the fact that one team taking the opening kickoff in overtime and then driving down the field only to kick a field goal to win is not particularly satsifying. Proposals that I feel are reasonable have been suggested by several people. In his most recent post, ESPN.com's Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, recommended in a parenthetical aside that overtime should not be decided by an opening drive field goal, but everything after the opening drive is OK. I do not completely agree with that proposal, but it is getting close. Mike Greenberg from ESPNRadio's Mike and Mike in the Morning, had an overtime suggestion that I liked. His suggestion is that the winner in overtime should be first team to score six points, however that occurs. That way, an opening possession field goal would not win the game, but an opening touchdown would.

The main reason that I like the first-to-six proposal is that it eliminates winning the game with an opening drive field goal, but it does not guarantee both teams possession of the football. I like the idea that returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown could win the game outright. The same is true for a touchdown scored by one of the defenses. Just please do not suggest this solution is any fairer than the current overtime policy.

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