I’m still not sure what we watched last night.
I have no problem admitting that I was running around my apartment yelling and screaming from excitement like a child as the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs put on an epic show in the final two minutes of their AFC Divisional Playoff game. Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes on the first possession of overtime, never allowing Josh Allen and the Bills to possess the ball in OT, in one of the more excruciating playoff losses you’ll ever see.
Immediately following the Chiefs win, which advanced Kansas City to their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game, the talk turned to the NFL’s overtime rules, and whether they needed to be adjusted considering that Josh Allen and the Bills never got a chance to touch the ball in OT.
I wasn’t ready to have that conversation last night. I was on too much of a high for coherent thoughts. But now that I’ve come down, I’m ready to chat, and I’ve decided that the NFL needs to change its overtime rules.
First, let’s take a step back.
Down 26-21, Allen took the Bills on what appeared to be a career-defining, 17-play drive late in the fourth quarter to give Buffalo a three-point lead on a 27-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis on fourth-and-13. Buffalo converted the two-point conversion attempt.
Five plays later, Chiefs quarterback Mahomes connected with Tyreek Hill for a 64-yard touchdown, giving Kansas City a 33-29 lead. Six plays after Kansas City took the lead, Allen connected with Davis for his fourth touchdown catch of the night, giving Buffalo a 36-33 lead with 13 seconds on the clock.
It was an absolutely wild two minutes, with three lead changes and 22 points scored. And yet, the game was still not decided.
Mahomes took over from the Kansas City 25-yard line, and somehow went 44-yards in two plays — Buffalo allowed a 24-yard gain to Kelce with eight seconds on the clock — and Harrison Butker sent the game into overtime on a 49-yard field goal.
Per NFL overtime rules, “Each team must possess, or have the opportunity to possess, the ball. The exception: if the team that gets the ball first scores a touchdown on the opening possession.”
In a game in which 25 points were scored in less than two minutes, both defenses were gassed by the start of the extra period, meaning that the team that won the coin toss would more than likely end the game on a touchdown. Kansas City won the toss, marched down to the Bills eight-yard line on seven plays, ending the game on Kelce’s lone touchdown catch of the game.
Allen and the Bills — who put up 422 total yards of offense — never had a chance to respond, ending one of the greatest playoff games in NFL history on a sour note.
“We should never let a football game be determined from a coin — like, I think that’s the most craziest rule in sports,” Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins said after the game. “You can fight your entire fight the whole game and then the game comes down to a 50-50 chance of a coin toss? Like, this ain’t Vegas. We’re not at the casino table.”
No other major professional sports league has an overtime structure in which one team is denied a chance to score. The NBA plays a five-minute overtime, the NHL plays until one team scores, and each team is given a chance at the plate in Major League Baseball.
Yes, I’m aware that theoretically an NHL game could end without one team touching the puck. But it almost never happens, with both teams usually getting multiple offensive possessions in OT. Not to mention the first possession is determined by a face-off, and not the flip of a coin.
Why should the NFL be any different? I understand that the NFL may be concerned about injuries during the regular season, so it can keep the current rules in place for the first 18 weeks of the season. But playoff football is too important to have a 50/50 coin flip decide the outcome of the game.
For the playoffs, if the team possessing the ball first scores a touchdown, the opponent should be allowed one possession to do the same. It will add another level of intrigue as the team facing the deficit will more than likely face a fourth down on their lone possession, and we’ll never be forced to say that a quarter flip decided a playoff football game.
Should the opponent score and tie the game — they get the option of going for the win with a two-point conversion — then we go to sudden death, with the next team to score being the winner. I don’t understand what the argument would be against this idea, though I’m sure the NFL will have one.
I’ll hop off of my soapbox now, but it’s time for the NFL to make a change. Never again should a classic NFL game be decided by a heads or tails call.
This article has been expanded after publication to include additional information.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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