There is already talk of a change being needed in the overtime rules for NFL playoff games. People are letting their knee jerk reactions to last night’s classic game between Green Bay and Arizona cloud their judgment.
We can’t base the overtime rules on just one game. I know everyone wanted Aaron Rodgers to have a chance to match the Cardinals’ touchdown. I would have loved to see it myself.
However, defense has to remain a part of the game. For me the sudden death rule change that made a field goal a less appealing option in overtime is perfect. It gives the defense the chance to be the hero. The emphasis was put on scoring a touchdown, not on driving the ball 42 yards then lining up for a 50 yarder to win the game with an idiot kicker.
If the defense can’t stop the team that won the coin toss from crossing the goal line, then the kicking team deserves to lose. The game can’t go on forever. Not even if Aaron Rodgers has just tied the game using the team accountant as a receiver.
I do not believe that allowing both offenses to match touchdowns would make the game better. It would just make it longer and more prone to injuries. Randall Cobb didn’t last two-quarters before spitting up his spleen. And no it doesn’t matter that these players would have the entire offseason to heal. These are human beings. We should care about their actual health instead of how long they would be out of action.
You can look at the college game with their ridiculous 100 point totals after they go into overtime for evidence that those overtime rules are not an improvement. The teams go back and forth until they are ultimately forced to go for two point conversions to make sure the game doesn’t take eight hours to complete.
College football’s two point rule in overtime isn’t needed in the NFL. The principle of that rule is handled when NFL overtime starts. Two points is harder to get of course so it makes it a challenge for one team to get over that hump and finally win the game. A touchdown is harder to get so that creates the challenge needed to name a victor in the NFL from the start of overtime, not four extra periods later.
I can’t deny the greatness we witnessed on Saturday night between the Packers and the Cardinals. We saw Aaron Rodgers raise the level of play of a couple receivers that the average NFL fan had never heard of before.
We also witnessed one of the greatest wideouts in history bail his shaky quarterback out with a 75 yard catch and run in overtime to set up the win.
If Green Bay had a chance to match that score, then some of the shine comes off that epic play. The Packers defense just runs off the field and tells the offense to “go get that one back.” I love the pressure that was on the Packers defenders to stop Arizona on the opening drive of overtime. You could see it through their facemasks as they desperately chased a legend named Larry Fitzgerald, knowing the guy was about to send them home for the year.
As much as I feel for NFL defenses I still can’t go for any overtime rule change. I know they can’t touch the quarterback or strike fear in receivers over the middle without getting flagged. The defense is clearly at a disadvantage during the entire game. They still have opportunities to make plays though. There are usually five or six key plays during a game where the defense could have turned the tide with an interception or a missed chance at a big sack.
Make those plays and the defense doesn’t have to worry about not getting a fair shake in overtime.
More NFL action is something we all want. I love the game. But just like adding two more games to the regular season would diminish the importance of each game, a back and forth touchdown matching overtime would diminish the importance of all the plays leading up to that point.