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Muscle Sport Magazine

NFL Playoff Overtime Proposal Good for the Game

If the proposed postseason overtime rule had been in place this year, the New Orleans Saints may not have had the opportunity to win their first Super Bowl. For anyone who needs a reminder, in the NFC Championship Game versus the Minnesota Vikings, they won the coin toss with the score was tied at 28 at the end of regulation and sent themselves en route to South Florida with a 40-yard field goal a few plays later.

The NFL owner’s meetings begin on Sunday in Orlando and one of the things on the table is a proposal to alter the overtime rules for the playoffs. The new format would state that a team would win the game with a touchdown scored, but the opponent would get a possession if they only gave up a field goal. In the event that both teams made field goals, the sudden-death rule would then apply.

Got that? It’s a bit confusing but makes total sense. (Remember that this does not apply to regular season overtime games.) A high-powered offense such as the Vikings never had an opportunity to see the field and had to watch the game – and their championship dreams – kicked away.

24 of the 32 owners need to vote ‘yes’ for this to pass and you have to figure that most of the contending teams would be willing to have a second chance for a win if they give up a field goal following four quarters of playoff battle. But then again, some of the older owners may not be apt to go for such a drastic change in the game they love. Traditionalists tend to hold their ground, even when it is a detriment to the progress of the sport. A likely scenario is that the vote gets close this year and passes in 2011.

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In the 2009 playoffs, two games were decided in overtime: the aforementioned Saints win and the Arizona Cardinals defeating the Green Bay Packers, 51-45, in the NFC Divisional Round on a defensive touchdown.

Since the overtime rule was adopted by the NFL during the regular season in 1974, there have been 445 games, with 312 of them being decided by a field goal (70.1%).

Photo by Bill Menzel

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