College football overtime is not real football. You don’t have kickoffs or punts. It takes significant aspects to the game out of play. You’re also starting in field goal range. This season, college football added the truly horrible rule of resorting to a series of 2 point conversion attempts in the third overtime. I hear people talk about this model and say its what the NFL could do because it’s “fair.”
That’s the sports commentary today after the epic playoff game last night between the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs. The last 2 minutes of regulation saw three touchdowns and a field goal. It was the most exciting back and forth to end a football game I’ve ever seen. As the fourth quarter clock ticked to zero, the Chiefs hit a game tying field goal to send it to overtime.
Once they got to overtime, the Chiefs won the coin toss. After the dramatic end to the fourth quarter it seemed underwhelming. Neither defense was getting stops at that point. And the Chiefs relatively easily drove down the field and scored a touchdown.
Without the Bills ever having the ball in overtime.
They say the only certainties in life are death and taxes. I’d add a third. People not liking football overtime. Football overtime is hard. Baseball is easy. You just keep playing one more inning until someone wins. Basketball is easy. A five minute overtime will ensure both teams get multiple possessions.
But football? How do you decide a winner? In both college and the NFL, a clear goal of overtime is to have it be short. Football is a brutally violent and physically demanding sport. You want to limit how many extra plays and hits these guys are taking after having just played a full football game.
So then how do you decide a winner? College overtime isn’t it. I think that suggestion overlooks just how good NFL players are. If the Bills-Chiefs game were decided by college overtime, they’d still be playing this morning!
I hear the argument that Buffalo didn’t get a chance. They have three chances. They had the lead with less than 2 minutes to go. Lost it. They got the lead again with :13 seconds left. Allowed a tie. In overtime, they also had another opportunity to get a stop. They failed all three times. So I don’t agree that “they didn’t have a chance.” They had three chances.
“Well they couldn’t stop Kansas City!” Ok. But to win the game, at some point, they were going to have to. If Kansas City scores (as they did) and Buffalo gets the ball and scores, then what happens? Does the next score win? Then that goes back to KC getting the advantage. Do you play 15 minutes? The NFL teams themselves have no interest in changing the rule to play a full 15 minute quarter by default in OT.
This brings me back to the beginning. I get that the conclusion to last night’s game was an underwhelming way to finish an amazing game. But I also understand that football does not lend itself to a perfect overtime format.
No matter the current format or a format where both teams get the same number of possessions, ultimately SOMEONE’S defense needs to make some plays. Personally, I have no problem with this format being the deciding factor after teams have already played 60 minutes of football.
Life isn’t fair. Make something happen.