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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.

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I didn’t start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I’ve now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America’s Team.

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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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Star Blog

Think Jason Garrett is a Robot? FOX Sports Agrees

Jess Haynie

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Jason Garrett

Cowboys fans have often complained that head coach Jason Garrett is too robotic in his demeanor, media answers, and constant clapping. Yesterday, with most of the country feeling Star Wars fever, FOX Sports tapped into the zeitgeist while also taking a little jab at Garrett’s robot reputation.

FOX Sports released photographs of several NFL personalities as Star Wars character. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady were Jedis.  Bill Belichick, surprise-surprise, was a the evil Emperor.

Garrett… well….

FOX Sports: NFL on Twitter

@AaronRodgers12 @CameronNewton @Panthers @Patriots Jason Garrett is fluent in over 6 million forms of communication.

From 2016 Coach of the Year to punchline, Garrett’s reputation has certainly taken a big swing this season. Things are so bad, they couldn’t give him a C-3PO with matching arms. Oh, the indignity.

Of course, this is all in good fun. Garrett has 12 and 13-win seasons in two of the last three years. 2017 could’ve been very different if not for Ezekiel Elliott‘s legal issues and Sean Lee’s injury. And even now, there’s still a chance the Cowboys can sneak back into the playoffs.

Yes, Jason is repetitive. And yes, he’s no Bill Parcells behind a microphone. But could they at least have made him R2-D2?

At least FOX Sports didn’t make him Jar Jar Binks. That should go to Roger Goodell.

Just for fun, what other Star Wars characters would you compare Cowboys players and other staff members to? Maybe Sean Lee as Boba Fett, hunting down targets in the open field? Or maybe Cole Beasley as Luke, since they’re both a little short to be Stormtroopers.

Have any other good Cowboys/Star Wars comparisons? Share them in the comments!

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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Combinaciones Para Playoffs?, ¿Juego Trampa vs Raiders?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dak Prescott, Offensive Line

Es increíble pensar que ya estamos en la semana 15 de la NFL. Más increíble aún, los Dallas Cowboys que se fueron 13-3 con el sembrado #1 de la NFC hace un año, ahorita cuentan con un récord de 7-6 y unas esperanzas de pasar a playoffs muy, muy pequeñas.

El domingo pasado, a pesar de llevarse la victoria en el campo contra los New York Giants, los Cowboys no recibieron la ayuda que necesitaban alrededor de la liga.

Pero a pesar de ser pequeñas, las esperanzas siguen vivas. Y este domingo, los aficionados a Dallas no sólo apoyaremos a los Cowboys en el Sunday Night Football, sino también a otros cuantos equipos.

Para los Cowboys, ¿cuáles son las combinaciones necesarias?

  • Dallas Cowboys termina la temporada 10-6, ganando los últimos tres partidos. 
  • Que los Green Bay Packers pierdan un partido. 
  • Que los Detroit Lions pierdan un partido. 
  • Que los Atlanta Falcons o los Carolina Panthers pierdan dos partidos. 

En mi opinión, incluso con Aaron Rodgers volviendo al campo, los Panthers y los Falcons presentan el mayor reto. Y creo, que lo que deberíamos estar apoyando en este momento, es que sean los Falcons los que pierdan dos partidos.

¿Por qué? Porque este domingo, Carolina se enfrentará a Green Bay. Francamente, Panthers es el equipo que más probabilidades tiene de echar a perder el regreso heroico de Rodgers. Panthers también puede vencer a los Falcons en la semana 17.

Así que, mientras los Panthers no podrían ayudar perdiendo, creo que más bien nos podrán apoyar ganando. Sin embargo, los resultados de la semana 15 influenciarán mucho a quien apoyaremos como fans de los Cowboys.

Por ahora, estos serían los resultados ideales de la semana 15:

  • CHI Bears vencen a DET Lions. 
  • CAR Panthers vencen a GB Packers.
  • TB Buccaneers sorprenden a ATL Falcons. 

Claro, dos de estos resultados parecen muy optimistas, pero todo puede pasar en la NFL y sobre todo con equipos tan inconsistentes como los Lions.

Por supuesto que, todo esto no tiene ni sentido si los Cowboys no se van 3-0 en las siguientes tres semanas. El rival más fuerte que le queda a Dallas son los Seattle Seahawks. Con Ezekiel Elliott volviendo esa misma semana, será un duelo increíble en el AT&T Stadium.

En mi opinión, será el partido que definirá de que son capaces los Dallas Cowboys del 2017.

Pero primero que nada, los Cowboys se tienen que preocupar por un partido que puede resultar siendo un juego “trampa.” Un juego trampa, es cuando un equipo tiene una semana muy importante por venir (Seahawks) y subestima al rival (Raiders) que tiene enfrente dentro de los próximos días.

Sobre todo cuando es de visita, estos partidos pueden resultar siendo peligrosos en la NFL y realmente, en todos los niveles de football americano.

Fantasy Football - #FantasyFootball Hot Sauce/Weak Sauce and Waiver Wire Adds for Week 9 3

Oakland Raiders Derek Carr (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Y sí, los Raiders han tenido una temporada muy decepcionante en la que ni Derek Carr ni Amari Cooper han sido lo que se esperaba, pero Derek Carr es un QB que puede echarse al equipo a los hombros en cualquier momento.

Todos pueden tener una mala temporada, y ese ha sido el caso para el #4 de Oakland. Sin embargo, si los Cowboys mantienen el partido cerrado en el cuarto cuarto, Derek Carr puede demostrar que tan peligroso es.

Con jugadores clave como Khalil Mack, que por cierto tendrá una batalla épica con La’el Collins, es un juego que no es tan fácil como parece. Sí, los Raiders tienen un récord de 6-7. ¿Y? Los Cowboys tienen un récord de 7-6. Es mejor, claro. ¿Pero realmente es tan bueno como para pensar que será una victoria fácil?

Podemos criticar a Jason Garrett por muchas cosas, pero una de las cosas que no podemos criticarlo, es la motivación que le da a los jugadores. A pesar de muchos reportes acerca de que los jugadores “estaban molestos” con los coaches, definitivamente no han jugado como si se hubieran rendido en su entrenador.

No creo que los Cowboys pierdan el domingo. Pero esperemos que no sólo ganen en la noche, sino que obtengan victorias indirectas alrededor de la NFC.

Tell me what you think about “Cowboys en Español: ¿Combinaciones Para Playoffs?, ¿Juego Trampa vs Raiders?” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Star Blog

Is 3-3 Without Ezekiel Elliott A Win For Dallas?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys 2017 Roster Projection: Preseason Week 2
Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s funny how quickly perception can change in the NFL.

A little over two weeks ago, the sky was falling on the Dallas Cowboys. They had just been blown out three straight times, twice at home and twice against direct NFC playoff competitors. Cowboys Nation wanted firings – whether that meant head coach Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, Rod Marinelli, or all of the above.

Dak Prescott couldn’t survive without Ezekiel Elliott, and all of the change made to the defense was beginning to be called a failure by the masses.

Fast forward to this week. The Cowboys have now been the deliverers of butt-kickings the last two weeks, and now sit at 7-6 with an outside chance at a playoff spot. And while the team looked like a complete mess without Elliott previously, a win Sunday would put them at 3-3 over the course of the Pro Bowl running back’s suspension.

And is that really all that bad?

Heading into the suspension, most fans probably would’ve taken 3-3 without Elliott and 8-6 overall. Most fans would’ve though that would put the Cowboys right in the thick of the things in the NFC playoff hunt. And most would’ve assumed we’d be happy with an 8-6 Cowboys team.

Unfortunately, 8-6 most likely won’t be good enough in this year’s playoff race. Especially considering the return of Aaron Rodgers and previous losses to both the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons. Plus, the entire NFC South has been fantastic this season (besides Tampa Bay) and two teams from the West look legit as well.

So maybe this just isn’t the Cowboys’ year. But, the success of other teams in the conference shouldn’t cloud our perception of what the Cowboys have done this season if they were to win Sunday night. A win over the Raiders this week would qualify the team’s handling of the Elliott suspension as a “success” of sorts (in terms of on the field, at least) in my opinion.

They would have kept themselves alive in a deep NFC playoff race, discovered a legitimate offensive weapon in Rod Smith, maintained a solid rushing attack over the majority of the six games, and allowed for some real growth from their young quarterback Dak Prescott.

I know the first three games of the suspension were awful, and a team with the talent of the Cowboys shouldn’t be losing that way three times in a row, or three times in a season at all. But, something should be said about how the team has weathered that storm, and kept themselves above water in this competitive conference.

But, of course, the result Sunday night could change all of this if the Cowboys come out and lay an egg in Oakland, effectively ending their season before Zeke even gets back. In that case we will more vividly remember the three horrific losses in which the team was out-coached and embarrassed. But, still those games should be remembered regardless of Sunday’s outcome.

So maybe success is a bit of a strong word.

This week’s game is not only a huge one in terms of the 2017 playoff race, but also may be an important one for determining what the 2018 Cowboys will look like.

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