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New NFL OT rule on target

April 1, 2012
CRAIG REMSBURG - Senior Sports Writer (cremsburg@miningjournal. net) , The Mining Journal

There's nothing better on a Sunday afternoon late in the fall than watching an NFL game on TV. For me, that's especially true when a Detroit Lions' contest is one of the games presented.

But over the years, it was maddening to watch a game end in a regulation tie, then the team that won the overtime coin toss coming out victorious on a 50-yard field goal before the other team even got a chance on offense.

Statistics showed that in the last 15 years, the team on the correct side of the coin toss won OT games 59.8 percent of the time since kickoffs were moved back five yards to the 30.

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That, to me, seemed to be an unfair advantage, especially since the visiting team always got to call the coin toss.

And with kickers now able to boot 50- or 60-yard field goals, gaining only a couple of first downs and then kicking the winning FG didn't seem to be much of a challenge or an accomplishment.

It took the drama out of what should have been an exciting finish.

Fans of a home team losing in that manner weren't particularly happy, either. They probably felt cheated to spend so much money for a ticket and then see their favorite team basically denied a chance to win on a coin toss.

A couple of years ago, the NFL altered OT procedures for playoff games. If the team winning the coin toss opted to go on offense (nearly all did) and kicked a field goal to take the lead, the other team got the ball for a chance to tie or go ahead.

Should the team receiving the ball first score a touchdown, then the game was over.

Only two playoff games have went into OT since the rule was instituted in 2010, one (Denver's win over Pittsburgh) this past season decided by a Broncos' touchdown.

The other featured several ball possessions before the Giants beat the 49ers in the NFC title game this season.

But until Wednesday, NFL owners weren't applying the new OT rule to regular-season games that ended in a regulation tie.

Apparently, they finally saw the light.

During meetings this past week, the league's owners voted 30-2 to adopt the new OT rule for all NFL games.

It levels the playing field a little for teams not winning the coin toss. At least they now get a chance to tie or win the game.

Other rules changed by the owners this past week were: a team will now lose a down for illegally kicking a loose ball; too many men on the field becomes a dead-ball foul; and a player receiving a crackback block is now considered a defenseless player, with the hit resulting in a 15-yard penalty against the offending team.

All will benefit NFL games, but none as much as the OT rule.

NFL owners should have made that change a long time ago.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is cremsburg@miningjournal.net.

 
 

 

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