Why an NFL overtime rule change is overhyped


Mike Hamilton '22, Associate Web Editor

Since the decision to change the rules in 2010, the National Football League (NFL) has dealt with thousands of complaints on how the new system is unfair. Whether it was the 2019 AFC Championship between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs or the 2022 Divisional Round match between the Buffalo Bills and the Chiefs, there is one consistent complaint that the original change was hoping to address, which is that the rules are unfair.

The NFL overtime rules as they stand now are that there is a coin flip, and the winner can decide to receive or kick the ball off to the opposing team. The game ends with a touchdown on the first possession of overtime so in both cases mentioned above, the losing team never got a chance to score before their season was over.

But in this year’s AFC Championship game something very different happened. The Cincinnati Bengals lost the coin toss. While everyone in Arrowhead Stadium thought the game was over in favor of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bengals weren’t convinced. The Bengals’ defense trotted out on the field and mustered up two stops resulting in a 3rd and 10, where Patrick Mahomes threw a pick which turned out to be the fatal mistake. he Bengals marched down the field to set up a field goal by Evan McPherson, to send them to their third Super Bowl.

The Bengals are a prime example of how the rules don’t need to be changed. The losing team will always feel that the rules are unfair but upon independent evaluation there isn’t any reason a team’s defense shouldn’t be able to stop an offense for one drive. Football is a three phase game consisting of offense, defense and special teams. To assume that only one controls the game is a disservice to all of the athletes who play on the opposite side of the ball.

There have been proposals in the past to change the rules and the aforementioned Buffalo Bills voted against the change the last time it was proposed. It all goes to show that fans only care about the rules being changed when it affects their team. When players have been consistently calling for less training camp and less full padded contact, why would extending games be supported? If the owners wanted to add an extra week to the season there would be outcries from the NFL Players Association about overwork and high potential for injury. All parties involved can’t have it both ways. If you want to extend games you can’t turn around and complain about extended seasons.

While the rule will likely be changed considering the amount of public support it seems to have, the Bengals are a large reminder that football isn’t just about the flashy offense. For a team to truly be great, they have to have to be able to put the pieces together and be great on all sides of the ball. You can score 60 points a game, but it means nothing if your opponent scores 61.