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No need to change NFL overtime rules

January 5, 2009 |  8:35 pm

Peyton_300So tired hearing about "the unfair NFL overtime rule." Came up again this week because the San Diego Chargers won the overtime coin toss Saturday and drove down the field for the winning score, meaning Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning did nothing but sit on the bench and watch the Colts lose. What an injustice, the complainers say.

So the arguments resurfaced: "Shouldn’t both teams have a chance to have the ball in overtime? … If one team scores on the first try, shouldn’t the other get a chance to tie? … Why not make it like college when each team gets it on the 25-yard? … "

Uh … no, no and absolutely not.

This is what a team should do if it loses the coin toss in overtime, and it’s not too complicated –- stop the other team and force a punt. That strategy applies to the entire game, why should it be different in overtime? Football is a game of offense and defense.  And despite people’s complaints, of the five overtime playoff games since 2004, the team that won the toss is 1-4.

And that college rule? An offense starting on the 25-yard line isn’t much of a testament to anything. Geez, the team begins its drive in field-goal range. May as well have a field-goal contest to determine the winner. The strategy of field position, one of the major cogs of the competition, is eliminated.  The effectiveness of a defense that doesn’t allow long drives is eliminated. The fear of an offense making a mistake on its end of the field is eliminated.

More to the point, football is eliminated.

-- Athan Atsales

Photo: Peyton Manning never got a chance to play in overtime Saturday against the Chargers, who won, 23-16, on Darren Sproles' 22-yard touchdown run. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times