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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

OPINION: The NFL needs to overhaul their overtime rules

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Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs.

It seems that the Super Bowl can never come and go without some sort of controversy. 

In last year’s Super Bowl, a near-perfect game was soured in the end due to a holding call against the Philadelphia Eagles, setting up the Kansas City Chiefs to kick the game-winning field goal.

This year, the Chiefs became the first team in 19 years to repeat as champions when they defeated the San Francisco 49ers in an overtime thriller. Following the game, however, the 49ers claimed that they weren’t clear on the NFL’s overtime rules. 

The Chiefs fairly won Super Bowl LVIII under the current overtime rules, but the way the NFL conducts its overtime could still stand a change.

Until 2022, the rules of overtime were that the first team to possess the ball could win the game if they scored a touchdown. If they kick a field goal, team two could either win the game with a touchdown or kick a field goal, in which the game would become sudden death.

Following a Chiefs playoff game against the Buffalo Bills, the rules were changed so that the team not receiving the ball first in overtime would get to possess the ball regardless of whether the first team scored a touchdown.

The 49ers either forgot about this or simply weren’t paying attention two years ago.

After winning the overtime coin flip, San Francisco elected to receive the ball first and used that drive to kick a field goal. After Kansas City won the game with a touchdown on the next drive, the 49ers said they didn’t know the rules of overtime, implying that their strategy may have been different. 

This is a matter that shouldn’t concern the NFL. This storyline was so controversial two years ago that this is something both teams should’ve been aware of and preparing for.

However, Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman said he didn’t realize that his touchdown catch to win the game was the game-winner. I think this speaks more to the problem that nobody seems to know the overtime rules. 

The NFL is using a system for its overtime that is no longer working. They say it’s sudden death, but also try to find ways to give chances to the offenses that don’t win the coin flip, leading to so much confusion on the rules. They should commit to either having sudden death or not.

I think the NFL should scrap the idea of sudden death altogether. It’s great for a league like the NHL, where offense and defense changes fluidly and scoring is less common. In the NFL, however, each offense’s attempt to score stands alone, similar to an inning in baseball.

If you look at an extra inning in baseball, both teams get a chance to go to bat and they play a full inning.

Now, the MLB doesn’t run on a clock, but if you look at a league like the NBA which does, and where there’s so much scoring, they run a five-minute overtime until there’s a team leading at the end. Especially where the NFL is increasingly becoming an offense-first league, this is worth the comparison.

The NFL should draw inspiration from both leagues and play a full quarter of overtime. Both teams will get to possess the ball, there will be no thinking about who scored what and the game simply ends when the time expires and a team is leading. 

A change like that will cut out all the confusion, cause less controversy and create a more enjoyable product for the fans.

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About the Contributor
Jamie Taris
Jamie Taris, Managing Editor | he/him
Jamie is a senior broadcast journalism major and public relations minor from Pelham, New Hampshire. He has a deep passion for sports, especially hockey and football, and hopes to make his way into the sports media field after graduation. Outside of the Journal, Jamie is a sports intern at WHDH and is involved with Suffolk's orientation department. When he's not obsessing over the latest sports news, you can usually find Jamie hiking or camping in the White Mountains, or exploring the city with his friends. Follow Jamie on X @JamieTaris

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