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Should the NFL change its overtime rules again?

Week 12 chaos is proof that sudden death is still better than equality
11/26/2013 9:47 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Wes Welker took the blame, but the Broncos' muffed punt Sunday night cost the world two ties in the same NFL day.(AP)
It was just last season that the NFL changed their regular-season overtime rules to the somewhat-convoluted system that’s in place, one that says OT is sort of sudden death but only if the score on the first possession is a touchdown or a safety.

And after the events of Sunday, it may just be time to revisit that system and change the rules again.

The first tie of the NFL season (and second since the rule change in 2012) occurred Sunday, and if not for a bizarre twist of fate involving a muffed punt, there could have been two in one day for the first time since the 1974 rule change that created the sudden death overtime model.

Still, even though New England managed a game-winning field goal with 1:56 remaining in OT on Sunday night, the Packers-Vikings stalemate takes the cake because it’s the first tie where the “new” rules were bent – meaning, of course, that it’s the first tie where both teams kicked a field goal on their first possession and then still went scoreless the rest of the way.

How was this “new” rule an improvement, again?

This season, there have been 11 games that have gone to overtime. Only two have seen a touchdown scored on the first possession, and not surprisingly, they are the only two that have ended in a six-point differential. However, only one – the lone tie – has seen the new rules work as intended, while six of the other 10 have gone at least halfway into the extra period before the game-winning score.

So then, is this change really doing anything, other than guaranteeing more football and almost making it a self-fulfilling prophecy that there will end up being more ties?

Prior to the 2012 rule change, there had been two ties in the previous DECADE – both of which ended with a missed opportunity to win the game – and two ties in a season just twice (1986 and 1997) since the sudden death adaptation…and yet, we almost equaled both of those marks in the span of eight hours on Sunday and into early Monday morning.

In the end, all a tie does is complicate tiebreakers – something the Packers might find out if they somehow end up a half-game ahead of behind the Bears and Lions in the NFC North or end up entangled in a battle for an NFC Wild Card slot and something the Vikings will learn when their draft pick is bumped up or down one from where they really want to be.

If baseball and basketball can go until a winner is determined, hockey can have a shootout if overtime isn’t enough, and even college football can make sure records are kept to two columns, then maybe it’s time for the NFL to do the same.

How that’s done, of course, is a matter of conjecture, but there are multiple ways that can be debated, foremost just an abandonment of the new rule and a return to “first score wins” mentality. If the new caveat is really that important, though, they can keep it, only with modifications; maybe give each team one untimed (on the game clock) possession and then go to a 10 or 15-minute sudden death if the game is still tied, or even a multiple-OT system where game clock is timed like the NBA or the NFL fourth quarter (meaning a team doesn’t keep possession once a period ends).

Or, if all else fails, just take a page from college and institute some kind of Kansas tiebreaker system, even if it’s after a usual 15 minutes.

After all, if 60 minutes isn’t enough to settle a game, why limit it to 75?

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