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On Jan. 23, the Buffalo Bills took the field against the Kansas City Chiefs. The two teams battled back and forth until they evened the scoreboard after the final quarter. Following the NFL’s current overtime procedure, the Chiefs won the coin toss. This led to them taking possession of the ball. The Chiefs scored, the Bills lost, and fans were not happy.
Fans expressed their discontent with the Bill’s loss since they never possessed the ball, but this wasn’t the first time the NFL has received backlash over their overtime rule. Since 2019, three teams have proposed changes to be made.
In 2020, the Eagles requested that whichever team scored the most touchdowns during regulation should determine who possesses the ball first, not the coin toss. When the NFL declined, the Eagles and the Ravens proposed an overtime rule in 2021 that would allow the team who won the coin toss the opportunity to choose where to spot the ball during overtime. This was also declined.
The proposal I agree with most is a plan the Chiefs made in 2019 that would allow both teams to possess the ball in overtime. This plan also entails relying on the pregame coin toss to determine who receives the ball first.
This proposal was rejected but makes the most sense. The NFL’s overtime rule puts too much power in the hands of the coin toss-since the team that wins the toss is put in a favorable position. Because of this, once overtime begins it becomes a game of luck. It shouldn’t be.
The possibility that only one team gets to handle the ball denies both teams the responsibility to perform well on offense and defense. It makes the game feel rushed and unfinished. While ensuring that both teams possess the ball during overtime will take longer, a lengthier game is worth it if it means that both teams can walk off the field knowing that they had a fair shot.
The current overtime rule is a careless way to end a close game. It’s time for the NFL to make a change.