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The NFL Playoffs: (to me) one the most exciting times of the year in the world of sports along with the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Twelve teams battle for the right to clinch a spot in the Super Bowl and bring home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
But there's just one small problem, that weighs heavily on my pigskin-overdosed mind as the NFL playoffs take place: it's how games are settled if the game goes into overtime: It's settled by sudden death. The team that scores first wins. I want that rule changed. At least for the playoffs.
Peter King, Sports Illustrated's NFL scribe, doesn't like sudden death either because games can be won by the team who got the ball first without the opposing team getting the ball. Even though only 29 percent of teams who have gotten the ball first in overtime win the game, King feels both teams should be guaranteed at least one possession. However the NFL competition committee sees no reason to get rid of sudden-death overtime and probably won't do so until the number of one-possession-only games passes the 50 percent mark.
However, my problem with sudden-death overtime is that once a team scores (regardless if they got the ball first or not), the game is finished.
It's no way to settle an important playoff game (I don't like sudden death in the regular season either but I can tolerate it) like this last year's Giants-Packers showdown in the NFC Championship game.
As a fan of the Big Blue, I was obviously ecstatic to see them emerge victorious. However, I was not as ecstatic about the way the won it. The G-Men won it in overtime with just one score: a field goal. Just one field goal. A 47-yarder from Lawrence Tynes. It was like watching the Sopranos series finale: it left me feeling cheated and wanting more. And I say that as a fan of the victorious team.
Last Saturday, we all saw the San Diego Chargers take down the Colts in the first AFC Wild Card game. But an important factor being that they won the currency flip. After the kickoff, the Chargers offense steadily drove the ball 76 yards down the field, capped off by a Darren Sproles 22 yard-gallop into the end zone to give the Bolts the win--without ever letting Peyton Manning ever touch the ball in OT.
The Super Bowl has never gone into overtime (although there have been several close calls in recent years), but if and when it does, I dread seeing it settled by using sudden death. So I would like to see sudden death overtime in the NFL go the same route of eight-track cassettes, rotary dial phones and record players. Toss it aside. Forget about it. Never use it again.
I am from the school of thought that ex-Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher has endorsed: play a full overtime period that lasts, let's say for ten minutes. Let both teams touch the ball more then once. Let multiple scores by both teams take place. Let a team rally from a deficit in overtime. Let drama really unfold.
Those that favor sudden death overtime, argue that it's the best and most exciting way to determine the winner of a game. At the annual league meetings at Palm Beach, Fla. in 2004, the competition committee and team owners struck down the idea of replacing sudden death overtime. Afterwards, current Atlanta Falcons' president Rich McKay, who at time served as co-chairman of the competition committee stated "People do like in our league that it is true sudden-death, One play can end the game, and that's unique to our league."
But Mr. McKay because its unique, doesn't mean its better for the NFL.
Now consider if a full overtime period existed for last year’s classic Giants-Packers clash. After Lawrence Tynes connected on his three-pointer, imagine Brett Favre getting to atone for his ill-fated pass (picked off by Corey Webster, setting up Tynes' game winner) by driving the Pack down field and finding Donald Driver in the end zone to give the Pack a four point lead.
Imagine Ryan Grant, rushing up the middle fighting for yardage inside Giants territory to set up a Mason Crosby field, which ties the game.
Now wouldn't such a scenario be even more electrifying and trump the current one-score-and-done sudden death system?
I rest my case.
Roger Goodell, if you are reading this please pass this idea along to your competition committee at your next meeting, so we don't ever have a Super Bowl (or any other playoff game) decided because one team correctly called heads and then drove sixty down yards field and had their kicker boot a ball into the uprights while the other team didn't ever get to run one single play.
I'd so appreciate it. I'm sure many other football fans would too.