Schlosser’s NFL Spotlight
It’s not even a point of contention or an idea anymore; it’s just a fact. Both teams must get the ball in overtime, or it’s simply a travesty and overtime games mean nothing. That exact rule change has been proposed this year, and the NFL has to pass it to keep this league legitimate.
Last year, the Denver Broncos stormed back near the end to tie the game with the Seattle Seahawks on a long bomb from Manning. It was dramatic, it was exciting, and it was great TV. The game went to overtime, Seattle marched smartly down the field and scored, and it was all over.
It felt like a cheap ending. Which isn’t to take anything away from Seattle. They played perfectly in that overtime, Russell Wilson was unstoppable running the ball, and they got the win. It was within the rules and they deserve credit and the W. The fans loved it, no doubt.
But there are two problems with it: First, Denver is an offensive team. The defense has some studs, like Von Miller and Chris Harris, but the team relies on the offense to win. Not allowing that offense to play strips the Broncos of what they do best. It doesn’t allow them to compete to the best of their ability.
Does the NFL really want a superstar like Manning or Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers to lose because he’s sitting on the sideline in overtime while his team’s defense gets beat? This isn’t just about the Broncos; it’s about making things fair for all teams, about giving them all the same chance to win. It’s about ensuring that a coin flip doesn’t decide a game.
The rule that made it so a field goal alone didn’t win the game was helpful, but the NFL has to go a step farther. After a touchdown, the opposing team needs to get the ball and have a chance to score their own touchdown. It’s one thing college football got right that the NFL needs to replicate. They don’t need to put teams on the 25 and going in to score, but they need to give them both the ball.
The second problem is that the NFL has been changing the rules over the years to make the game more offensive. Cornerbacks are limited as to what they can do with their hands, defenders can’t hit quarterbacks, etc. The list goes on. The net result has been more scoring, more yards, more points.
In short, the overtime rule may have worked in 1970, but it’s outdated. It’s so easy for teams to score these days that offenses are constantly breaking records and setting high marks for yards, touchdowns, completions, and all the rest.
If the NFL wants the game to be all about scoring, fine. But the biggest argument from fans who like the current overtime rule is that a team needs to step up on defense. They get a chance to stop the other team. If they can’t do it, they don’t deserve to win.
That’s the type of thinking that mattered 30 years ago. Thanks to the rule changes, it no longer does. Yes, the team technically has a chance to get a stop, but the NFL takes steps every year to make it harder and harder for them to get that stop.
Why penalize them for that by handing them a loss?
It’s worth noting that some of the desire for this new rule could be fueled by the sting of that Broncos loss in Seattle last year. The Chicago Bears proposed the change, according to Andrew Mason. Don’t look now, but their brand new coach is John Fox, the coach who was on the losing end of that deal.
However, this does go far beyond Denver. The rule changes are league-wide. Denver is just the best and most recent example of how the current rules are outdated. All teams, even Seattle, are moving to be more offensively-focused because that’s how the NFL is constructing the modern game, and this rule would be in keeping with those other alterations.