View Full Version : Overtime sudden death

09-23-2009, 07:14 AM
Sudden death to this format
One-and-done no way to decide games
By Christopher L. Gasper
September 20, 2009

Anyone who watched the slugfest between the Steelers and Titans Sept. 10 had to enjoy watching two of the NFL’s most formidable and physical teams go facemask to facemask for the first 60 minutes. The game had great defense on both sides and a heroic performance by Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

It also had a lousy ending. The Steelers won, 13-10, in overtime on a 33-yard field goal by Jeff Reed.

Ending such a hard-fought game on a first-possession field goal in OT seemed like savoring a $40 filet mignon and then only being able to order Jell-O for dessert. It was also a clear example of why it’s time for the sudden death of the NFL’s overtime format.

The biggest problem with the current format is that it puts the emphasis on field goals, not touchdowns, and kickers have become far too accurate to make a one-possession overtime equitable. Last year, NFL kickers connected on 84.5 percent of their field goal attempts. That is the highest percentage in the Super Bowl era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Since the NFL adopted its current sudden-death OT format in 1974, of the 432 regular-season overtime games, 69.7 percent have been decided by a field goal.

This space offers a solution.

The team that gets possession first in the 15-minute overtime can only win on that possession if it scores a touchdown. If it kicks a field goal, then the other team receives the ball, and if it scores a touchdown, it wins in sudden death.

If the team with the ball first doesn’t score, then the second possessing team can win simply by scoring. If both teams kick field goals and the game remains tied after each has had a possession, then OT reverts to the current sudden-death format, where the first score of any kind wins. The same applies if neither team scores on its first possession. Any type of defensive score on the first overall possession of overtime also would end the game immediately.

The reality is great games like Pittsburgh-Tennessee shouldn’t come down to the chance of a coin flip.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher is cochairman of the NFL’s competition committee, and said the league has taken a hard look at a lot of overtime proposals over the years, but he couldn’t recall something similar to the Globe proposal.

Fisher, who told the Tennessee media that he didn’t have a problem with losing to Pittsburgh in OT without a possession, said he doesn’t see the format changing and feels like the current system is the best way of deciding games and avoiding ties, which he said is the primary purpose of overtime (there have only been 17 ties since 1974).
However, Fisher said the Globe idea is “probably food for thought,’’ while reiterating his support for the current system.

“I would support our current system and acknowledge that when you go into another system there are some issues - you increase ties, you increase the number of plays, there is player safety with an increase in the number of plays,’’ Fisher told the Globe.

“Our current system, we’re all familiar with it. We all understand it. There are no questions. To give an example, in a system that guarantees opponent possession, if Team B kicks off to Team A and then Team B intercepts Team A and fumbles on defense back to Team A, is that an opportunity to possess? There are a lot of what-ifs. What if Team A surprise on-side kicks on the opening kickoff, does that constitute Team B’s opportunity to possess? There are just a lot of what-ifs.’’

But it’s not as if those what-ifs couldn’t be worked out. There would be a clear risk/reward to the onside kick issue because if it fails the other team has a lot shorter to go to score a touchdown. An interception or fumble recovered by the defense that was turned back over in the process of play would be treated as a possession because if it had been returned for a touchdown it would have been sudden death.

A change also would add some more strategy.

Under the current format, 97.9 percent of the time the team that has won the coin toss has elected to receive. Now, if you believed in your defense, you could send it out on the field and hope it could stop the other team first, allowing you a chance to win with just a field goal.

At the least, the competition committee should kick around the idea because games should not end suddenly in OT in anticlimactic fashion.


On a personal note, I agree with the current system.
I mean, c'mon: the two teams just had 60 minutes to decide in any legal fashion which one gets victorious. An over-time period should be as short as possible, not long with many more offensive, defensive and special teams plays that will not only lenghten the time but increase players' injury chances as well.
Your thoughts?

09-23-2009, 08:16 AM
I'd like to see some kind of change, but this isn't it.

As for the current system, there's a VERY simple solution: Play some defense in OT and get the ball back.

09-23-2009, 08:56 AM
I'd like to see some kind of change, but this isn't it.

As for the current system, there's a VERY simple solution: Play some defense in OT and get the ball back.

Yeah, that.

09-23-2009, 09:42 AM
Oh yeah, just what we need -- more rules.

I used to hate sudden death because it seems to disproportionately reward the Payton Mannings and Tom Bradys of the world, they of their 30-yard "drives" to kick a deflating field goal at the end of the game. But the real answer is to just win the game in regulation or you shouldn't be bitching. Sorry, you both played well, but there has to be a winner, and there's going to be some uncertainty. Overtime isn't supposed to be some drawn-out gladiator-style battle to crown the best champion with honor -- that's what the first 60 minutes are for. Overtime is a way to get the game over with, and peopel just have to live with the fact that there's some chance involved.

Christian Snyder
09-23-2009, 09:43 AM
I like the current system.... That's how it's always been and that is how it should stay....:thumbsup:

09-23-2009, 09:50 AM
I LOVE the college system, BUT...I'm not sure I like it for the pro's, though. If they ever DID go to something like that, I'd want the overtime stats to not count.

09-23-2009, 12:13 PM
Sudden death is fine. There will be complaints about any format. If anything I'd rather see no OT during the regular season and an extra 15 minute period for playoff games until a winner is decided (ie not sudden death, an extra 15 minutes)

But I suppose sudden death OT is more dramatic

09-23-2009, 12:34 PM
Associated Press. updated 7:21 p.m. CT, Wed., Feb. 18, 2009
“Sudden death is a good procedure. It’s fun and everyone knows the rules,” McKay said. “I would like to see the stats change because I don’t like the fact that that the team winning the coin flip now wins 60 percent of the time, and the team winning the coin flip, 40-plus percent of the time, wins it on the first possession.”

So in other words, 60 % the time, BOTH teams get an OT possession. :noidea: jus' sayin'.

09-23-2009, 12:47 PM
The biggest problem with the current format is that it puts the emphasis on field goals, not touchdowns, and kickers have become far too accurate to make a one-possession overtime equitable.

Here's an idea - how about the team who loses the coin flip have their STs and defense do their jobs and not allow their opponent to get into FG range on the very first possession of OT so their offense can get a crack at it? Novel concept, I know.

There's nothing wrong with OT the way it is.

09-23-2009, 01:01 PM
agreed fansince76, i like the way it works now.

09-23-2009, 01:09 PM
If people don't like field goals in OT, the only rule change I'd support is a ban on kicking field goals. None of this convoluted bullshit with if-then rules on every OT possession.

There would be a certain appeal as well as an extra level of finality if the only way you could win in OT was by dominating your opponent with a TD or a safety. At least that way, nobody could say you didn't "earn" the victory. There would probably be a lot more ties, too.

But this is just a random theoretical tangent. I don't really think things are so bad that they need to change it.