Imagine this... The Bears are in a hard fought playoff game and are tied after regulation. Chicago wins the coin flip, elects to take the ball and drives down into field goal range. Robbie Gould kicks a field goal, but the Bears don't win. The other team still get's a crack on offense. Did anyone remember that a new overtime rule was in place for the postseason this year? It completely slipped my mind until I saw a piece about it on the NFL Network earlier this week. I remember the new rule was snuck through during the off-season, and I didn't like the idea then and I don't like it now. I'm all for a change in the sudden death format currently used, and I don't mind the new rule, but to essentially give a virgin idea its test run during the playoffs is asinine.If anything, it should have had it's trial during the regular season. Give the coaches some time to work out the strategy they'll implement, but now, in the most important games these teams will play, they have something new to be concerned with.
Much like the "tuck rule" will always be associated with Tom Brady, this new overtime format will always be linked to Brett Favre. Last season the Vikings and Saints were tied after regulation in the NFC Championship game. New Orleans won the overtime coin flip, took the ball, and drove down for the winning field goal. And the great Brett Favre never had a chance to work his magic in the playoffs. Boo freaking hoo.
Here's the new NFL OT rule from ESPN:
• Both teams must have the opportunity to possess the ball once during the extra period, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession, in which case it is the winner.
• If the team that possesses the ball first scores a field goal on its initial possession, the other team shall have the opportunity to possess the ball. If [that team] scores a touchdown on its possession, it is the winner. If the score is tied after [both teams have a] possession, the team next scoring by any method shall be the winner.
• If the score is tied at the end of a 15-minute overtime period, or if [the overtime period's] initial possession has not ended, another overtime period will begin, and play will continue until a score is made, regardless of how many 15-minute periods are necessary.
In college football, if a coach wins the overtime coin flip he always goes on defense first. Since both teams are guaranteed a possession the coach wants to know exactly what he'll need for the win. If his defense holds them to a FG, he knows his FG will send it to a 2nd overtime or a TD will win it for his team. In the NFL, the team that starts out on defense in overtime is only guaranteed an offensive possession if no TD is scored. Should an NFL team with a stingy defense elect to kickoff to start the OT? It's a tough decision, and one that shouldn't potentially be made for the first time in a do or die game.
From an Xs and Os standpoint, what is the correct way to play the new rule? Steve Wyche on nfl.com goes over some game planning aspects for special teams, for offenses, and for defenses that coaches now need to be wary of.
It's like not the situation with the Saints winning on their first possession happens all the time. It's only happened three times. That Saints win in 2009, the Titans over the Steelers in the 2002 Divisional playoffs, and oddly enough in the 2001 Divisional playoff "tuck rule" game won by the Patriots over the Raiders.
Back in March the owners approved the rule change by a 28-4 vote, and the Bears did vote for the change. So if the above scenario plays out and Robbie Gould kicks what would have been the game winner in years past, only to have their opponent get the ball back and win with a TD, I wonder how they'll feel then?