Monday, January 5, 2009

Uh-oh, It's Overtime

I'm a bit cranky today. My esteemed colleague Steve Bitker, who acknowledges his 2008 blog output was a mere shadow of mine, beat me to the punch with the first post of 2009. So I see how it's going to be in 2009. I'm going to have to dig deep, find out what I'm made of, etc.

Here goes: when will the NFL admit that its overtime rules are unfair? We're arguing about this again because the Chargers won the toss, then rode Darren Sproles' short legs on a touchdown drive to win the game. Peyton Manning never even got to fasten his chinstrap in reply.

You know I respect John Madden's opinion. He's forgotten more about the NFL than I'll ever know. But he, like many in the NFL community, continues to defend an obvious imbalance: More than a third of the time, teams that win the overtime coin flip score on their first possession.

John and others will argue that you don't deserve to win if your defense can't stop the other team. I happen to agree. So why is the NFL willing to let games end without requiring one team's defense to take the field?

I think I know why many are willing to live with the unfairness. The see the college/high school overtime scheme as the only option (alternate possessions, starting on the opponents' 25 yard line). I've always felt that system is imbalanced in favor of the offense and especially the kicker. Special teams are removed from the picture: there are no kickoffs and no punts.

But the NFL doesn't have to use the college rule. It could simply do this: change the rule so that each team gets at least one offensive possession in overtime. Imagine the scenario in San Diego: Chargers score, then have to decide whether to kick the PAT or go for two. They then kick to Indianapolis, and the Colts have to match the Chargers. If they can't, they lose.


And fair.

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