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NFL Overtime Rules Leave Fans Disappointed Again, Serious Reform Needed

John Williams

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NFl Overtime

The 2016 MLB World Series was an all-timer, and had it been an NFL game, it never would have happened. The NFL overtime structure is due for a change and they could take a few lessons from Major League Baseball. The Chicago Cubs were up three runs in the eighth inning but the Cleveland Indians battled back to tie the game. After both teams went scoreless in the ninth inning, the game proceeded to extra innings. In the top of the tenth inning the Chicago Cubs took the lead on a double-play by Ben Zobrist.

By the NFL's standard of overtime, that would have been the ballgame. The Cleveland Indians wouldn't have had a chance to come back in the bottom of the tenth. They didn't catch up to the Cubs and so the Cubs won the World Series.

The point is, Cleveland had its opportunity to force another inning and even to win it in the tenth. If only Matt Ryan and his Atlanta Falcons had been so fortunate.

NFL Overtime, Patriots, Falcons, Super Bowl LI

The NFL has yet to figure out an overtime system that allows its highest paid players to go back and forth. Imagine an overtime system in any other sport where the league's MVP that season wasn't afforded the opportunity to have an impact on the outcome of the game once it had gone into overtime.

It simply doesn't happen.

In the National Hockey League it's a rarity for one team to possess the puck in overtime in the playoffs and win on their first possession.

In Major League Baseball, both teams get an equal amount of at-bats to try to win the game.

The National Basketball Association plays five-minute overtime periods during the regular season to decide a game.

FIFA plays an extra 30 minutes of time before deciding the game on penalty kicks. And still, each team gets equal opportunity to win the game.

The NFL allows games to be decided without its highest profile players having an opportunity to match their counterpart.

Roger Goodell, you can fix this.

College football's overtime isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is far superior to what the NFL overtime currently is.

Each team in college football gets an untimed possession starting in the opposing teams territory.

  • If team A scores a touchdown and team B scores a touchdown; tie game, do it again.
  • If team A scores a touchdown and team B fails to score, game over.
  • If team A scores a field goal and team B scores a touchdown; game over.

Whoever ends the period with the highest score wins the game. It's simple and straightforward and it gives both teams an equal opportunity to win the game. Instead the NFL's rules leave the league MVP on the sideline, resigned to the fact that he didn't have an opportunity in overtime to impact the game.

I've heard arguments that the Falcons defense should have stopped them, and those people aren't wrong; under the current rules, that's the way football goes. But it doesn't change the fact that NFL overtime rules are weak.

Here's my solution...

Adopt the overtime system used in college football and put each team at the 50 yard line. Overtime will be played in "periods" with each team getting a possession. When a period finishes with one team having a higher score, that's the winner.

A sport is at its best when the top competitors have the opportunity to outdo one another.

All that said, I think the New England Patriots were still going to win the game because they were playing really good football, while the Atlanta Falcons weren't playing great. The Atlanta Falcons and their MVP quarterback, Matt Ryan still should've had a chance to impact the game in overtime.

It's time for a change.

The NFL has made many rule changes over the years to make the game more offensive and appealing to the fans. This should be the next one. While the outcome may have been appealing to one fanbase, it left another feeling like they didn't get a fair shot in the overtime period.

According to the Google Trends database of the most searched Super Bowl LI team by state, the disappointed fanbase was far more popular. An otherwise meaningless stat that may hold some clue as to why the NFL has seen a decline in ratings.

NFL Overtime, Patriots, Falcons, Super Bowl LI

NFL, don't leave your MVPs on the sideline to watch helplessly as their defense folds. That's no way to decide a championship.



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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11 Comments
  • XaqFields

    This is spot-on, John, spot-effing-on.

    I was chatting with your fellow writer Jess Haynie during the game and as the Patriots were driving down the field I said “It would be a shame if the Falcons don’t even get to touch the ball.”

    I’m unsure why the NFL chooses to set their overtime rules in a way that robs the fans of the opportunity to come away from the game feeling like the best team won. It used to be sudden death — first points wins. That was awful. The current rule where you at least have to score a touchdown on your first drive to keep the opponent from touching the ball is better, but still flawed.

    But in the Super Bowl!? The mother of all football games, and we allow it to end without ever giving the other team the opportunity to match the score again? This Super Bowl, widely believed to be the best one ever, will always be marred by that one fact, for me. It was won on a coin toss.

    I have a simple solution: take however much time you want to figure out a better overtime process during the regular season. I get that there are multiple games stacked on top of each other in the first 17 weeks, and it’s just not reasonable for every overtime game to last an extra hour. But the playoffs and especially the Super Bowl? Just run the whole extra quarter! If they’re still tied after that quarter is over, then go into sudden death. At least then you gave both teams an opportunity.

    Not to mention, didn’t Fox make like an extra $50 million on the ~10 real minutes of OT? Why wouldn’t the NFL want to stretch that out to 60 minutes + if need be? It’s the last game of the year. Nothing comes after that. The players have a full offseason of rest before the next game. PUT IT ALL OUT THERE.

    • https://InsideTheStar.com/ Bryson Treece

      @XaqFields:disqus I rememeber chatter back when they put this new system in place about doing it to lessen the burden on the players playing that extra quarter. Similar to the argument for shortening the preseason. I don’t necessarily agree with it, mind you, but I see it.

      I’d like either the 5th quarter and then sudden death, or allowing each team one drive, maybe two. If still tied after that, sudden death.

      • XaqFields

        Yeah, the burden on the players is definitely an issue. That’s why I wouldn’t be opposed to having the overtime rules changed for just the Super Bowl. That way it’s just one game –the final game– and not something the players are subjected to multiple times per year.

        For the remaining games, I agree with your latter suggestion where maybe both teams get one drive (regardless of whether the first team scores or not) and then if there’s a tie you go into sudden death.

        • John Williams

          I agree, you don’t want to create more situations where players are taking blows to the head, risking long term injuries etc. In the college form of over time when they are starting at like the 25 yard line. A guy charted college OT’s and found that 71% ended after 1 period. If the NFL adapted College rules but put the ball outside of FG range, I bet this would hold up as well.

    • John Williams

      Thanks for the feed back. I also understand why they limit in the regular season. Even the NHL does that. I just don’t see how they can justify it in the playoffs. It’s not putting the best foot forward of the product in my opinion.

  • Kevin Brady

    I agree that the NFL overtime rules are flawed, and even confusing. But I don’t think the Falcons really deserved another chance with the ball. They had plenty of chances during regulation and simply blew it. Would like to see them possibly play the entire quarter out during the playoffs, but that’s also asking a lot of these players. Just my two cents.

    • XaqFields

      I definitely understand that perspective, but I also think you can flip it and point out the Falcons thumped the Patriots for 3/4 of the game (IE: the Patriots had 3 quarters to not allow the Falcons to go up 3 scores on them) and it’s a shame they didn’t even get to handle the ball in overtime.

      With that said, that final Falcons drive where they were sitting in field goal range and rather than hitting the Pats with a couple runs and kicking the field goal, they got cute and ended up getting sacked out of FG range…. it definitely is tough for me to have TOO much sympathy for them. They had it in the bag right there.

    • John Williams

      I totally get this opinion. The Falcons blew there opportunity, but deserve isn’t the issue. It’s about fairness and the league maximizing it’s product. To have Matt Ryan, the league MVP sitting on the sideline only to watch limited the league and it’s product.

      Had it been Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers on the sideline helpless as the defense gave up the game tying score, it would be such a waste of their most marketable assets.

      I don’t think a change is necessary to the regular season overtime, but the playoffs need a change.

  • Thomas Hare

    I think e college rules would k if we start at the 50!

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Cowboys en Español: ¿Dónde Tiene Que Mejorar Dallas?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars

El mejor juego de los Dallas Cowboys en 2018 vino la semana pasada, cuando recibieron a los Jacksonville Jaguars y los vencieron 40-7. Un resultado que tomó a todos por sorpresa demostró la mejor cara en el año de este equipo que apenas tiene un récord de 3-3.

Por más dominantes que se vieron en el emparrillado el domingo pasado, esa actuación no termina de reflejar lo que realmente son los Cowboys. Son un equipo con potencial en la ofensiva y con una defensiva bastante fuerte, pero ¿pueden ganar constantemente como lo hicieron contra Jaguars?

De entrada, la respuesta a esta pregunta parece ser no. Aún en esa victoria, se vieron problemas evidentes en la ofensiva. Para empezar, la falta de ejecución en la segunda mitad en series ofensivas que incluso llegaron a iniciar en territorio enemigo. De gol de campo en gol de campo se juntan puntos, sin duda, pero en partidos cerrados eso termina costando victorias. Hace falta que Dak Prescott y compañía puedan mover el balón una vez en rango de gol de campo y convertir esas oportunidades a touchdowns.

Otra preocupación que no podemos subestimar es que el juego aéreo sigue sin funcionar apropiadamente. Cole Beasley dominó con nueve atrapadas para 101 yardas y dos touchdowns, pero el resto de los receptores se fueron sin  más de una recepción por cabeza. El único jugador que logró más de una fue el TE Geoff Swaim, quien se llevo dos en todo el juego.

Si bien Beasley tuvo uno de los mejores juegos en su carrera, más receptores tienen que involucrarse para llevar la ofensiva al siguiente nivel. La buena noticia es que en esta ocasión se enfrentaron contra una de las mejores secundarias en la NFL. Los números son malos, pero tienen la oportunidad de demostrar mucho más contra otras defensivas.

Los Dallas Cowboys tienen que repartir más la bola y seguir buscando maneras creativas de utilizar a su RB Ezekiel Elliott. Pases pantallas en tercera y largo no es ser creativo. Lo vemos funcionar dos o tres veces al año pero mandan esta jugada semanalmente. En cuanto a Dak Prescott, hay mucho donde mejorar. Deberíamos estar viendo pases más arriesgados, al centro del campo y mucho mejor posicionados.

Sean's Scout: Measuring Randy Gregory's Potential Impact on Cowboys Defense

Para la defensiva, las cosas se ven muy bien. Puede que veamos la mejor versión de esta unidad esta semana, cuando viajen a Washington. Maliek Collins, Sean Lee, David Irving, y Randy Gregory estarán jugando mucho más sanos y preparados. Este es un frente defensivo lleno de talento que intimidará constantemente a Alex Smith este domingo.

A pesar de que los Redskins no tienen una ofensiva muy explosiva, el área de oportunidad principal para la defensiva de Cowboys está en la profundidad defensiva. Tanto Jeff Heath como Xavier Woods han hecho un trabajo decente, pero tienen sus momentos en los que no logran asegurar una tackleada y permiten jugadas largas.

Hace unos meses no esperábamos que fuera la defensiva y no la ofensiva la que cargaría a este equipo a muchas victorias, pero ese ha sido el caso en las tres victorias de esta temporada. Y en las tres derrotas, la defensiva fue la que mantuvo a los Cowboys en el juego.

Sin duda alguna, lo que tiene que mejorar es la ofensiva. Los receptores tienen que desmarcarse, Prescott debe ser más preciso y tener una mejor conciencia en la bolsa de protección.

Pero sobre todo, es la inconsistencia del equipo. Esto se comienza a sentir como la temporada del año pasado, cuando los Cowboys se fueron 9-7 y nunca terminaron de establecerse como contendientes a los playoffs. Aún en una NFC East donde todos los equipos tienen récords similares y débiles, no pueden continuar perdiendo una semana y  ganando a la otra.

Ganarle a los Redskins sería la primera victoria de Dallas jugando de visita. También sería la primera vez en el año en la que tendrían victorias consecutivas. Por esto y muchas otras razones, incluyendo el potencial liderato de la división, este juego es de suma importancia.

Si ganan, podría ser el momento en el que los Cowboys terminen de darle la vuelta a la página y si pierden, podría ser un indicador de que esta temporada será igual que la del 2017.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: ¿Dónde Tiene Que Mejorar Dallas?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?

Brian Martin

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Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off arguably their best and most complete offensive performance of the season after playing the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, but there is still quite a bit of improvement that can be made. The need to get more playmakers involved is apparent, which is why I think it's time to utilize Fullback Jamize Olawale's unique skill set.

I know many of you will argue that getting Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup going is a higher priority, and you wouldn't be wrong, but Jamize Olawale's playmaking ability could be a huge asset for Quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense. I know it sounds a little strange, but hang in there with me for little bit.

As things stand right now, Olawale has only played 38 offensive snaps (10%) in 2018. That's the exact amount of offensive plays Wide Receiver Terrance Williams has played this year and he's missed the majority of the season. It's not exactly the kind of production I was expecting when the Cowboys decided to bring him aboard via trade with the Oakland Raiders earlier this offseason.

I don't know about you, but I was expecting Olawale to be more involved in the offensive game plan. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and isn't too shabby as a runner either. But, we haven't seen him utilized in either fashion this season and I think that's an injustice that needs to be corrected.

Now, I fully understand there are other offensive weapons ahead of him in the pecking order who need to see more targets, but I also really think he can make a difference maker, especially in the passing game. That is where his strengths lie, not as a lead blocking fullback.

Jamize Olawale

Dallas Cowboys FB Jamize Olawale

Olawale was a bit of a Swiss Army knife during his time with the Oakland Raiders. He played a little running back, fullback, tight end, and even a little slot receiver. I really thought the Cowboys would take advantage of his versatility in the passing game, but as of yet they have failed to do so.

I'd like to see the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan utilize Jamize Olawale's unique playmaking ability a little bit more on offense. I think they should try to utilize him like the San Francisco 49ers use their fullback, Kyle Juszczyk. He's much more involved and has played a total of 263 offensive snaps (63.68%) this year.

Juszczyk is a better lead blocking FB then Olawale, but that's not where he makes the most difference in the 49ers offense. He does it as a receiver and has already caught 17 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown. That's some pretty solid production from a position that is being phased out in the NFL.

Now, just imagine the Cowboys offense getting similar production from Olawale and how that would help open up things for everybody else. It's not out of the realm of possibility because the 49ers offense and the Cowboys isn't all that dissimilar.

Unfortunately, I think Jamize Olawale is pretty much an afterthought in the Cowboys offense right now. It's truly unfortunate because I think he can be a difference maker if given the opportunity. And with a division foe like the Washington Redskins next on the schedule, what better time to unleash a new and unseen element of the offense?

Do you think Jamize Olawale needs to be more involved offensively?



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Cole Beasley Key to Cowboys Passing Game Productivity?

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars 1

What most of us already knew was confirmed last Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wide Receiver Cole Beasley is the Dallas Cowboys best receiver and is the key to the passing game productivity. He is not only the most productive, but the most consistent.

Cole Beasley isn't the tallest or the fastest and definitely doesn't look like a prototypical NFL receiver, but he showed last week against the Jaguars why opposing defenses have to account for him on every single play. He torched Jacksonville's top-ranked passing defense for 101 yards on nine catches and added two touchdowns, and it's that production that could help open up the entire passing game for the Cowboys.

It's painfully obvious Cole Beasley has been Dak Prescott's favorite target in the passing game since he took over the starting duties in 2016. Once opposing defenses figured that out they started to make things extremely difficult by bracketing Beasley in coverage and the passing game hasn't been the same since. But, that could be changing if the Jaguars game was an indication of what we might see moving forward.

Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan did a much better job of moving Beasley around to create favorable matchups against the Jaguars. I think we will see much more of that moving forward, but that likely means opposing defenses will once again try to take away Prescott's favorite target. That actually could end up helping the Cowboys passing game though.

Dak Prescott, Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

If opposing defenses indeed try to contain Cole Beasley like they've done in the past, it should help provide more opportunities for Dallas' other pass catchers. Spreading the ball around to several different receivers would not only help Prescott and the passing game, but also open up the entire offense.

We haven't really seen much of Allen Hurns or Michael Gallup this season, but both are more than capable of being more productive if they are seeing single coverage more often. That's what's likely to happen if defenses bracket Beasley in coverage once again. Both WRs need to be more involved anyway and Beasley's recent spike in production could help do just that.

Now, if defenses decide to try and cover Beasley one-on-one like the Jaguars did quite a bit of last Sunday, the Cowboys would be wise to take advantage of that mismatch. He simply can't be covered by a single defensive back because of his precise route running ability. He is that good.

Regardless of how opposing defenses try to handle/contain Cole Beasley, he is without a doubt key to the Dallas Cowboys passing game productivity. Just the threat of him on the field changes a defenses approach, which is why he is Dallas' #1  WR in my book. He absolutely has to be more involved moving forward, even if it is as a decoy.

Do you think Cole Beasley is the key to the Cowboys passing game productivity?



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