This week, in the divisional playoff, we witnessed yet another bungled overtime period when the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Buffalo Bills in overtime, 42-36. The Chiefs drove fifty yards in nine seconds to set up a game tying field goal by Harrison Butker and won the coin toss, driving down the field to score the sudden death securing score.

The overtime rules that the NFL operate under have been long criticized for their unfairness and lack of excitement by fans, analysts, players, and coaches for years. The NFL attempted to level the playing field a little by eliminating the field goal from being a game-winner if secured on the first drive, but it has done little to nothing to secure the interest of the period.

In this case, the divisional playoff game was essentially decided by a coin toss. For a game with such massive implications, that’s unfair.

If the NFL truly wants to operate under an “overtime” format, there has to be another way, especially in the playoffs, to make such a period more meaningful. Anything played prior to the period is meaningless and undermines the entire 60 minutes played before it. So what could be done to fix the overtime period, at least in the playoffs?

The proposal should simplify the overtime period

I think that a format that the NFL should consider is simply continuing the game from the end of the fourth quarter in a sudden-death format. That way, any field positioning left on the field – the entire byproduct of the game, is still factored into the extra time. Why would we start a new game, as the official announced in the Chiefs/Bills game on Sunday Night?

In the case of the Chiefs/Bills game, the fourth quarter ended with the game-tying field goal by Butker. The overtime period, under this proposal, would start with the Chiefs kicking off to the Bills. The game continues as it would have normally.

But let’s expand on the proposal. Let’s say that the teams tied at 24, for example, in the third quarter and had failed to score through the fourth. On the last play of the game, the Bills gained twelve yards on third and fifteen, getting to the Chiefs 44-yard line. The overtime period would pick up on fourth and three at that spot, leaving the Bills with a huge decision to make.

The field goal rule should stand. If the first drive in overtime ends with a field goal, the other team should be given an opportunity to score. The point is that the sixty minutes played prior isn’t made irrelevant, creating a true overtime period.

How could you make this proposal happen?

The biggest issue with any rules proposal is that it has to be sold to the majority of the owners, who will vote to make the decision regarding new rules. So how do you sell the rules to owners and present a case for why the rule should change?

Any owner would hate to be in the position Buffalo found themselves in with the Chiefs. They had fought hard to keep the lead. Hell, they scored a go-ahead touchdown with 13 seconds to play! Kansas City not only tied the game on the last play, but won the coin toss and Buffalo never got a chance to respond. That’s infuriating as an owner, especially in a situation where the next team with the ball was about to score.

The easiest way to sell this rule proposal is that every owner hates to be in that situation. Every coach would be on board with the change because the entire idea of losing all of your progress made throughout the game and tossing the momentum gained completely aside.

At the very least, we need to find a better overtime period that doesn’t leave so much to chance.

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By John Vogel

NFL Draft Analyst. Dad.

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