The NFL Needs to Change Their Playoff Overtime Format

Last night, the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers faced off in one of the best playoff football games in recent memory. It was a back and forth game the whole way and took not one, but two Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary’s to get the game tied with under a minute left. The final Hail Mary came with no time left on the clock to tie the game and send it into overtime. But the overtime period lasted all of three plays, with Arizona promptly marching down the field. The quick ending has brought up the issue, at least in my mind, of whether the NFL should change their overtime rules.

First off, I’d like to mention that I am a Packers fan. They only trail the Patriots in rankings of my favorite teams and the fanship runs in my family’s origins from Wisconsin. The loss killed me last night as I would love to see a Pats vs Packers Super Bowl with the two best quarterbacks in the league going head to head. But I’m not only writing this because of last nights game. I’ve actually thought about the change when Tim Tebow won an overtime game in Denver on the first play from scrimmage with a throw to Demaryius Thomas.

Having such great games end so quickly really does the game a disservice. Both teams should seriously get a chance at winning the game or at least get the chance to possess the ball in the overtime period. Especially in last nights game, where the Packers offense was clicking down the stretch and Aaron Rodgers was showing off his full arsenal of arm strength, accuracy and ability to extend plays. The Cardinals offense on the other hand hadn’t been playing all that great all game, with a lucky tip into the hands of Michael Floyd being the only touchdown for the Cardinals in the second half.

The NFL made strides in overtime football when they announced that only a touchdown could end the game on the first possession, and not just a field goal. But honestly, that’s still not enough. It’s only fair that both teams possess the ball, especially in the playoffs. Every fan wants to see a fair game, and with only one team being able to truly win the game puts the team on defense at such a disadvantage. With the game focusing on offense much more than defense, teams have a plethora of options on offense, while defensive talent runs rather thin. With teams and rules designed to help the offense (thanks Peyton Manning and Bill Polian), defenses aren’t given much of an opportunity for a fair fight.

As I’ve stated, I think both teams should have the right to possess the football, regardless of what happens on the first possession. If both teams score a touchdown, then it should be next score wins, whether it be a defensive touchdown, an offensive touchdown or a field goal, the game is over. Or, if the NFL wants to make it really fun, they could play a whole overtime period and see what happens for the whole 15 minutes of action. But the main point I’m trying to drive home is that both teams need to have the ball on offense at least once.

The changes that should be made will obviously make the game longer, and with complaints across every sport that the games take too long, it might go against the thoughts of fans today. But I for one won’t complain about free football, and with football fans being the most passionate out of the four major U.S sports, I doubt many other fans would complain either. The playoff format for the regular season is fine, but for the postseason, both teams should get equal opportunities to get the chance to win the game.

Photo via ChicagoTribune


2 Comments Add yours

  1. LatLon101 says:

    Good article Sean and I completely agree with you. I was so deflated (!!) by the outcome that I didn’t watch any Sunday games. Too many reviews to see if the ball was over the line before the knee went down and blah blah blah! Then the chains are brought out for a measurement and someone is short by 2″, that is the margin of error of referee placement of ball. I guess I am a bitter Packer backer.
    OBTW – In the Pats game I watched the Amendola hit on ??, what a shame. Anyone heard the word concussion? See my reply to Tyler

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope that’s not a DeflateGate joke… But yeah, they always say football is a game of inches and the game against the Cardinals proved it. People rag on the officials a lot but people forget they don’t have instant replay on every play and it’s easy to miss calls are put the ball down in the wrong spot. It’s seriously a tough job but I’m hypocritical because I get on their cases a lot too.


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