Sudden Death Lite

Today the NFL owners approved a rule change for overtime in the playoffs.  Now if the first team to get the ball scores only a field goal their opponent will get one crack at offense to either get a field goal to extend the game or a touchdown to win it.  This modification could add some interesting layers of strategy:

1) Does the team winning the toss necessarily take the ball?  I would think yes in at least most situations, as you can still win outright with a touchdown, or lose outright by giving one up.

2) Now you have to play for the touchdown if you get the ball first.  Basically look for teams that win the toss to play that possession like its the middle of the 2nd quarter.  Normal offense all the way down the field trying for the touchdown.  No running the ball into the line 2 or 3 times once they get inside the 30.  But of course if they encounter 4th down go ahead and kick the field goal and play defense.  However, it could get interesting down near the goal line.  If you have 4th & Goal inside the 1 or 2, I would look for teams to go for the touchdown and the win figuring if it doesn’t work they have the other team pinned deep.  Play defense get the ball back on a short field with a field goal in the traditional sudden death scenario.

3) The team that gets the ball 2nd having yielded a field goal could have some interesting decisions also.  Obviously its 4 down territory until they make field goal range, but if they are facing 4th and short near the goal line they too may elect to go for the TD and the win, rather than kicking the field goal and having to kick off in a true sudden death scenario.

4) And now for an esoteric question.  If a team onside kicks and recovers, does that count as a possession for the receiving team?  I assume catching the kick only to subsequently fumble does.  To onside kick in overtime of a playoff game would be ballsy to say the least but I would hope the rulebook writers keep the possibility in mind.

This modification is for the postseason only, but it will reportedly be taken up in May to consider making it so for regular season games also so that all NFL games are played under the same conditions.  Well, same conditions except the Super Bowl having a halftime that is twice as long as any other game but that is another subject.  And while Buckeyenewshawk would prefer simply playing out a whole overtime period, whether it be 10 minutes or a full 15 (at least in the playoffs) he feels this is a step in the right direction and therefore welcomes the news.


One Response to “Sudden Death Lite”

  1. Kevin Snyder Says:

    WRT #4, one of the ESPN NFL guys had a tweet on this, and I believe the report was that recovering on onside kick means that the kicking team can win it with a FG because the other team had the “opportunity to have possession”. Also, I hope they approve this change for the regular season as well come May. I would prefer the current form or a full 15 minutes over this new form, but since they are going with this for the playoffs, I think keeping uniformity with the regular season and playoffs is best (except no ties in the post-season, thank you Bill Polian lol).

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