Bills Fall Short
This past January the Chiefs defeated the Bills in a thrilling game that finished in overtime. A game that shouldn’t have went to overtime in the first place. After Josh Allen and the Bills drove down the field to score for the second time in two minutes there were 13 seconds left on the clock. The Bills were 13 seconds away from the AFC Championship game, all their defense had to do was keep the Chiefs out of field goal range. Instead they allowed the Chiefs to glide down the field like The Undertaker glided to to the ring at Wrestlemania 21. It was an embarrassing display of defense all around but especially from the Bills side.
These players get paid millions to be great in these moments. Your Super Bowl destiny is on the line and all you have to do is be perfect for 13 seconds. Even the most mediocre defenses can win a ball game on one or two big plays, ask Eli Apple he’s average but singlehandedly broke the Chiefs before the half the AFC title game. Moral of the story is if the Bills defense made one last stop this game doesn’t leave regulation.
Unfortunately for them their defense was already defeated at the coin toss. The game was already over because if they couldn’t stop them with 13 seconds on the clock how could they possibly stop them now? The Bills lost the game which led to fans and media to an uproar about how the overtime rules need to change. I’m sorry but you’re all wrong.
Make a Play Not an Excuse
After the Chiefs advanced to the AFC title game they ran into the Cincinnati Bengals who beat them a few weeks prior to the big rematch. The Chiefs led that game 28-17 at the half but were only able to put up thee points in the second half. The Bengals out scored them 17-3 through those two quarters to win 34-31. The sequel was eerily similar to the original. The Chiefs had a 21-10 lead going into the half but this lead could have been larger.
There was a play call that changed the momentum of the game and the trajectory of both teams. With five seconds left on the clock, on the Bengals one yard line, the Chiefs decided to go for the touchdown instead of a field goal. They obviously wanted to bury the Bengals since they couldn’t do it in week 17. So they decided to throw a short pass to Tyreek Hill who was immediately met by Eli Apple as time expired.
That play woke the Bengals up and gave them the momentum to mount a comeback which they did. Leading 24-21 with their backs against their own end zone Sam Hubbard sacked Patrick Mahomes twice for -20 yards on back to back plays. Which led to a Harrison Butker field goal and free football.
The difference between the Bengals and Bills in this moment is that Bengals giving up a field goal felt like a win because those were the first and only points they gave up in the second half. The Bengals went into overtime not caring about a coin toss, they felt like they had the Chiefs offense on the ropes and all they needed was one play to get the ball back. Once again the Chiefs won the coin toss but they were celebrating all through out Arrowhead Stadium like the game was won.
Mahomes threw two straight incompletions to start the drive off. It looked like the ball was destined to be picked off, it was like that ball was an actor and it was directed to be intercepted by the Bengals. The following play it was indeed picked off which led to the Bengals winning with a field goal.
It Can be Done
The Bengals aren’t the only ones to prove that you don’t need the ball first in OT to win a game. Remember the 2019 NFC Championship game? Drew Brees and the Saints got the ball first in overtime after they felt they were robbed in regulation. What did Brees do? He threw up a duck to the Rams to lose the game. It doesn’t matter who gets the ball first, if your 11 players on the other side of the ball can get a stop or make a play.
Go way back to January of of 2004 when Matt Hassleback said “We want the ball and we’re gonna score.” Somebody scored but it wasn’t the Seahawks, Packers cornerback Al Harris took a Hassleback ball to the crib.
Teams who get the ball first in overtime do have a stronger chance of winning but it’s harder to give up a touchdown than a field goal which is why the current overtime rules are just fine. Defensive players and staff need to be better prepared for these situations both mentally and physically. Understand that the game is not won at the coin toss, it only takes one play to turn it around, and defense can score too. Fans only complain about the overtime rules when it directly affects their favorite team or a team they wanted to win. As a Packers fan I’ve seen countless overtime collapses during the sudden death era. Not once did I complain about overtime rules, I complained about the team not being better in regulation and overtime.
There are 60 minutes in a ball game and 60 seconds in a coin toss, which one really determines the winner?