The NFL’s stubborn overtime rules ruined the Super Bowl

Adam Patrick

In what many are calling the greatest Super Bowl to ever be played, the recent matchup between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons could have been even better if not for the NFL’s antique rules the league has set in place for overtime.

Yes it was an amazing game, yes it was an amazing comeback by the Patriots, and yes it was a monumental collapse by the Falcons during the recent Super Bowl 51 held in Houston, Texas.

But it still could have been better.

Now some may be thinking, how could a game in which some are calling the greatest Super Bowl in the history of the NFL possibly get better?

Well, what if Atlanta was able to get a chance with the ball on offense after New England scored a touchdown on their first possession in overtime? What if then the Falcons were able to tie the game with a touchdown of their own and the game continued on?

Thanks to the NFL's overtime rules, the Falcons never got the ball on offense during the game's extra period. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Thanks to the NFL’s overtime rules, the Falcons never got the ball on offense during the game’s extra period. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Well unfortunately, the NFL’s rules pertaining to overtime immediately declare the game to be over if a team scores a touchdown on their first possession during the games extra period. The only way in which Atlanta would have received a chance to score in overtime would have been if the Patriots kicked a field goal or failed to score.

But that did not happen, so without having a chance to tie the game, Atlanta was sent home as the losing squad.

While the league’s current overtime rules are a step above what they used to be (first team that scores wins no matter what), they still allow the game’s outcome to basically be decided by the flip of a coin. Many felt that as soon as New England won the overtime coin toss and elected to receive the ball first, the game was pretty much over.

Why does it seem that the NFL is so hesitant on changing these rules so that each team competing in the game has a fair shot at winning?

Instead of the game continuing on and possibly providing even more excitement, the night was over as soon as the Patriots scored a touchdown in overtime. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Instead of the game continuing on and possibly providing even more excitement, the night was over as soon as the Patriots scored a touchdown in overtime. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Perhaps the league is too concerned about a game turning into a marathon and causing their television partners to become irate because the game is cutting into their regularly scheduled programming? The NFL will likely relate the reasoning to not changing the overtime rules to player safety somehow, but everyone knows what the driving force truly is behind the league’s decision making process (it is a word that rhymes with honey).

Some have suggested that the the league adopt similar overtime rules to those used in college football. These rules allow each team to get an offensive possession no matter how many points are scored by the team who gets the ball on offense first.

Surely the NFL could implement some similar overtime rules, but that seems like it would almost be too easy. What would the talking heads on sports radio and 24/7 sports networks have to argue about all day?

It does not seem as though any changes will be made anytime soon to the league’s current overtime rules. But until they do (if they ever do), coaches better start having their players practice more on their coin toss-calling skills.