The Sunday Night Football installment on Nov. 27 was a thriller from start to finish. With just 12 seconds left in the Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs game, the referees were called to review a critical play. As the officials confirmed the pass completion to Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill in the end zone, the Chiefs decreased their deficit to 22-24. With their backs against the wall, the Chiefs then successfully attempted a two-point conversion to tie the game and send it into overtime.
While both teams scored three-point field goals in extra time, the game eventually ended as Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos banked a 37-yard field goal attempt and the Chiefs walked away victorious.
This overtime win was a thrilling one to watch, but in a number of scenarios, the game could have ended in a very different fashion.
Had the Broncos scored a touchdown on the opening drive of overtime play, they would have won automatically, according to NFL rules. This means that the Chiefs never would have had possession of the ball or a chance to score.
Ending in a tie is another unfortunate possibility in the world of the NFL. If the clock reaches the end of the 15-minute overtime period, the game ends regardless of score. So if the Santos missed the field goal, the game clock would have expired and the game would have ended in a 27-27 tie.
Both of these rules have been subject to much scrutiny ever since they were introduced. Many players and fans agree that both teams should have possession of the ball during overtime. Perhaps, the rule could be changed so that both teams get a chance to score, and if one scores a touchdown and the other does not, then the team that scores wins.
As far as the rule on ties, it is understandable that the NFL limits regular season overtimes to one 15-minute period. The NFL’s 16-game season is grueling for the athletes, and the constant blows that the players take need to be limited as much as possible. If not, teams would not play as well in the playoffs due to an increase in injuries.
That being said, no football fan wants to see a tie. Fans want to see the last second, dramatic endings to games that make the game so exciting. As of late, the NFL is losing viewership at an alarming rate, and the possibility of a o tie cannot be helping. So far, there have already been two games that ended in ties this 2016 season. The NFL needs to consider both of these rules not only in order to slow the loss of viewers, but also to keep players happy.
Star quarterback Russell Wilson has taken a stance on the issue, proposing that the NFL take a lesson from hockey and soccer and have a field goal “kick-off” of sorts. In this overtime system, the winner of the coin flip would get the ball at the 35-yard line in opposing territory. They would make a field goal attempt and then take turns attempting field goals at this distance with the other team, until one team eventually scores a field goal. Not only would this solve the issue, but it would also add a new element of excitement that could lead to an increase in viewership.
Although NFL football is still the most watched professional sport in the United States, it is not watched as much as it used to be. One of the main complaints is that the NFL’s current rules make it not as fun to watch as it used to be. While the overtime rules are not as big of a detractor as the rules against certain types of contact and celebrations, they certainly do not increase viewership. The NFL must reevaluate their rules and regulations, including those regarding overtime, in order to retain the viewers they are losing so quickly.