For decades, the NFL Overtimes have used a “Sudden Death” format. Although the rules have been slightly altered in recent years, it has been maintained as the fundamental principle of Overtime. However, this idea has been deemed unfair by fans for years with almost no change, and with the outcome of last weekend’s playoff games, it may be time for change to finally come.
In the last two minutes of Sunday’s Chiefs-Bills AFC Divisional Round Playoff game, a combined 25 points were scored resulting in a tie at 36 to end regulation. In what might have been one of the greatest football games of all time, every fan watching knew the game would almost certainly be decided by the winner of the coin toss, and they would be right. Kansas City won the toss, and after a quick bit methodical drive, the Chiefs were headed to the AFC Championship after a 42-36 win.
This isn’t the only instance of such an occurrence. In Super Bowl LI, the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the second half to the Patriots to send it to overtime. The Patriots then won the coin toss, leading to a quick touchdown and a Super Bowl victory.
Although these games were some of the most exciting games in recent memory, it’s ending still proved to be controversial. Many fans, media, and even players expressed their frustrations over how a coin toss was one of the determining factors for who won, and believed it was unfair that the losers of a coin toss resulted in no offensive possession. Plus, being that the Bills had found the endzone 3 of their last 4 drives, it feels almost guaranteed that had the coin toss ended in the Bills favor, the end result of the game would be different.
It’s worth mentioning that College Football has an entirely different set of Overtime rules. In the NCAA’s rendition of Overtime, each team get a possession starting from the opponents 25 and take turns trying to score, with no possibility of the game ending in a tie. Not only is there an equal opportunity to score, but a winner will be declared in every single game.
While the NFL has definitely had its memorable overtimes, College Football’s overtime rules guarantee a thriller. If the NFL wants to give a fair opportunity to both teams and create a more entertaining finish that guarantees that a true winner will be declared, then college rules might be the way to go. Regardless, it is childish to allow a coin toss to have such massive influence over the end result of a playoff game.