Do we need to change the overtime rule again?
That was my first question and one I pondered sarcastically on Twitter as the Seahawks were marching down the field in OT on the first drive after winning the coin toss. Marshawn Lynch secured the victory with a touchdown run and a certain star quarterback remained on the sideline.
If Peyton doesn't get a chance will we have to change the OT rule again?- Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) September 21, 2014
I was kidding. At least I thought I was.
The current overtime rule was changed a few years ago after several prominent and evidently influential members of the media complained that it was unfair for a team to be able to secure the victory by winning the coin toss and subsequently driving for the clinching score. One of the examples noted during this outcry was a 2009 playoff game between the San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts in which the Chargers won in overtime on the first drive after the coin toss.
(Note: As some have pointed out in the comments, there was also the 2010 NFC Championship game that ended when the Saints kicked a field goal in OT, not giving Brett Favre a chance to orchestrate a scoring drive. I'd argue both probably influenced the decision due to the high profile of both quarterbacks.)
What a shame that Manning (or Favre) didn't get a chance, "they" said. The real shame is that those people, and the NFL's Competition Committee (which inexplicably caved on the issue after saying they wouldn't), don't recognize that Manning got plenty of chances in that playoff game. Sixty minutes of them, to be exact. If he played better or took care of business during regulation, the overtime period wouldn't have been necessary. And we more than likely wouldn't have an overtime rule that more than half the people watching during the marquee late afternoon game don't fully understand.
Yet here we are again. The guy that has arguably been the impetus for several rules changes (2004 illegal contact emphasis after AFC Championship game loss to Patriots, 2010 OT rules after aforementioned Chargers loss, 2014 illegal contact and holding point of emphasis after Super Bowl loss) and benefited the most is at it again.
"They changed the rules a little bit, but it doesn't really change if you go down and get a touchdown," Manning said after the game. "It puts a premium on the coin toss. Called tails at the beginning of the game, went with it again in overtime. It was heads, and proved to be a significant call."
I wish Manning were kidding, but evidently he was not. The NFL literally altered the rule for his benefit on this issue and it feels as if he is still complaining about it.
He's not the only one, though. Lots of Bronco fans and even a prominent Denver columnist were calling for the rule to be changed again after Sunday's loss.
It's crazy if you ask me.
So crazy that they're right.
The NFL should change the rule again, although my preferred overtime configuration is going back to the sudden death format that existed while I played. You know, the format that I never heard a single player or coach complain about during my seven years in the NFL. Ever.
But if that isn't a possibility, they should go to an overtime in which both teams are guaranteed a possession. If the goal is for both teams to get an equal opportunity, then give them both that equal opportunity. The current rule is a half measure, and if history has taught us anything it is that half measures are very rarely the best answer in any facet of life.
I wrote last week that there weren't a lot of things that bothered me about the NFL during commissioner Roger Goodell's tenure. His leadership was generally outstanding and the league has prospered as a result. I forgot in that piece to mention the new overtime rule that was instituted under his watch. It stinks.
The irony is that Goodell is still in hot water, as he should be, because of a half measure type of punishment of Ray Rice that was half of what even the Ravens have admitted publicly they thought it would be.
That half measure was a failure. So is the new overtime rule, and Sunday was just the latest example of that.