Over the overtime

The NFL’s rules desperately need an update


photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Players from the Kansas City Chiefs (left) and players from the Buffalo Bills (right) wait in anticipation to see the results of the coin toss.

Quinn Burton, Staff Reporter

For decades, the NFL’s overtime format has dragged on even though it seems as if there’s a game every season that raises outrage amongst fans, and this season is no exception. 

Recent controversy surrounding the NFL’s overtime policy sparked after the Chiefs-Bills divisional playoff game, and with SuperBowl LIV taking place on Feb. 13, a much-needed change must be made in order for the game to be fair. 

In the NFL, the current ruling for overtime is decided between a coin toss. The winner of the coin toss will gain possession of the ball. If the team possessing the ball scores a field goal, the opposing team will gain control of the ball after a two-minute intermission. However, if the team possessing the ball scores a touchdown, they automatically win and the opposing team does not receive the ball. 

For nearly a decade the NFL has sustained these rules; however, 63% of fans believe that they are desperately in need of a change, and frankly, I’d have to agree. Many instances, including the Chiefs-Bill game, have proven the NFL’s overtime system to be unfair and unjustified.  

On Jan. 23, the divisional playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills was one of the most thrilling NFL games I’ve ever seen; however, it ended unfairly.  I believe the current overtime rules caused the Chiefs to win because it relied on a coin toss rather than the player’s skill. The teams were on an even playing field, but the Bills were deprived of getting a chance to score in overtime. This was heartbreaking to many fans watching because after playing a nearly perfect game from both sides, each team should have received a chance in overtime.

The current overtime method in the NFL is unexciting and doesn’t bring the anticipation that we as fans are desperately waiting for. The feeling was that whoever won the coin toss was going to win, and that’s what happened. I understand the NFL wants to shorten the length of overtime periods, but I think it is only fair for each team to possess the ball. 

There’s already a simple and proven method to settle ties in football: the college format. The NCAA rules for college football overtime are certainly different from that of the NFL’s. In college football, if two teams are tied after the final whistle of the fourth quarter, the teams will meet at the 50-yard line for another coin flip to determine the possession of the first extra period. The visiting team picks heads or tails. The teams will play extra periods until there is a winner, with the order of possession changing each period. Not only is the college overtime method fair and exciting, but there are rarely any complaints about it. 

Compared to the NFL overtime rules, the NCAA rules are far more appealing to fans and allow for a fair game amongst players. With the next Super Bowl arriving in less than two weeks, it should be only a matter of time before the NFL takes into consideration their controversial overtime format and implements a new set of rules.