The NFL's overtime rules are fine the way they are. Don't change them
In the wake of arguably the most thrilling divisional-round playoff game in NFL history, social media was filled with fans advocating for another change to league overtime rules.
On Monday morning it was more of the same, with fellow sports media folk I respect — including my Georgia peach of a colleague, Jay Busbee — posting links to stories they'd written declaring it was time for more tweaks.
As much as I respect all of them, they are wrong.
The NFL overtime rules, as they are, work just fine.
I get it. The final minutes of Chiefs-Bills were amazing. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen combined for 260 passing yards in the fourth quarter alone. I was so amazed by Allen's gorgeous, 19-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis with seconds left in regulation that I jumped off my couch and shouted expletives of awe (hint: they rhyme with "moly ducking spit") so loudly I worried I was going to wake my sleeping daughters.
Two young quarterbacks, one who had already established himself by way of an MVP award and Super Bowl win, and the other who proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that his 2020 progress was not a fluke and indeed he is every bit the fearless playmaker. An edge-of-your-seat game that capped an enthralling weekend, meeting and then exceeding its three predecessors.
I get it.
But it had to end. Someone had to win.
Anyone who has played football at any level loves to talk about it being the "ultimate team game."
Aaron Rodgers didn't get an extra possession to make up for his team's embarrassing special teams play on Saturday night. The Tennessee Titans defense didn't get another free shot at Joe Burrow after Ryan Tannehill's third interception.
Teams win. Teams lose.
Allen walked off the field with 13 seconds on the clock. Thirteen.
Even with Mahomes as the opposing quarterback, it was almost impossible to believe that he'd get Kansas City in field-goal range in that little time.
The Bills didn't squib kick, which of course would have been a gamble had there been a long return, but also would have taken precious seconds off the clock.
Then the Buffalo defense allowed a 19-yard pass to Tyreek Hill and a 25-yard completion to Travis Kelce. Forty-four yards, in two plays. Exactly what the Chiefs needed and a little more. Harrison Butker made a 49-yard field goal, and it was on to overtime.
Complain about OT and coin flips all you want, but that's where the game was lost.
The offense did its job. The defense, and in the eyes of some the special teams, didn't step up.
When the game did go to overtime, the rule is such that again, had the defense stepped up Allen would have gotten a shot. Kansas City picked up 10 yards on third-and-1. Mecole Hardman got 26 yards on a catch-and-run a few plays later for first-and-goal.
On the next snap, Kelce got both feet down on a sideline pass in the end zone. Game over.
If Buffalo forced another field goal, Allen gets the chance to play the hero again.
The current rule is certainly better than the one the NFL used for years, when the coin flip really did determine who won the game because all it took was a few plays to get into field-goal range. Of the 11 playoff games that have gone to overtime since the change went into effect in 2010, the team that won the coin toss went down and scored the requisite touchdown on that first possession seven times.
That's better than 50 percent, but it also shows there were some teams whose defenses made a stop.
If the rule is changed and both teams get a shot in overtime, then what? If Allen and the Bills offense had gotten another chance and they scored a touchdown, do you try to go for 2 points and the win? Or kick the extra point and keep it going? If Mahomes gets a second OT chance and scores, is Allen required to get a second chance?
All of that sounds like it's creeping toward the college overtime rule, and absolutely no one wants that.
To his credit, Allen understood.
"The rules are what they are and I can't complain," he said. "If it was the other way around, we'd be celebrating."
Along those lines, it's funny how we're not seeing any Chiefs players say how unfair it was this time around, like they were in 2018 when Kansas City lost in the same fashion to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
There is no "perfect fix" to overtime. The fix is to have all three phases of your team do what they're supposed to do and not give up, say, 44 yards on two plays in under 13 seconds.