NFL’s OT system makes Saints’ victory less than thrilling
The NFC championship game on Sunday between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings was great theater. The game wasn’t always pretty — turnovers and penalties seemingly occurred on every play. But the contest was filled with drama — plenty of scoring and hard hits, Brett Favre matching up with Drew Brees, and the city of New Orleans looking for its first Super Bowl berth.
At the end, the Saints earned their title game appearance against the Indianapolis Colts. But didn’t you feel cheated as a football fan when the game was over?
After winning the all-important coin flip to start overtime and getting a nice kickoff return from Pierre Thomas, the Saints’ offense moved 39 yards — 17 coming via penalties — to position themselves for Garrett Hartley’s game-winning kick.
After his final throw — perhaps of his career — was intercepted, Vikings quarterback Brett Favre didn’t have a chance to step back onto the field. And that’s a shame.
I understand that not every team that wins the coin flip ends up winning the game — but that’s irrelevant. The point is, a coin flip should not have such an impact on a game when two teams are locked in a tie — unless it’s 0-0 and the game is just getting underway.
The NFL’s overtime system of a 15-minute sudden-death quarter — no matter the stakes, playoff or regular season game — needs to be modified in order for both offenses to have a chance to take the field.
Let me stress that I am not in favor of any system that resembles the current one in the college game — where each team gets at least one possession with the ball placed at the opponent's twenty-five yard line with no game clock. The one aspect of it that I like, however, is the fact that each team at least gets one chance on offense.
Obviously, defense is just as important as offense and the Vikings could have ultimately stopped the Saints in OT. I get that. But why should it be up to just one aspect of the team to get the job done when the game is on the line? Sure, by definition a sudden-death period is just an extension of the game that was played in regulation, but doesn’t a coin flip imply that a new “game within a game” is ready to commence? Maybe that’s the problem I have with the current system — the false advertisement of a fair contest between two teams.
We’ve heard alternatives being presented for many years. Besides the college system, some have suggested eliminating field goals in overtime. But that’s not fair, either, in that kickers are just as important to a team’s success as any other position.
There are certainly pros and cons to each alternative system that fans and media may propose, and I’m not so certain I even know what proposal I favor the most.
However, it would have been awesome to see Favre have just one more chance in the extra frame — maybe hitting a streaking Sidney Rice down the sideline, reminiscent of the Favre-to-Sterling Sharpe days.
Although, knowing the game’s outcome and the way the Vikings tripped over their own feet repeatedly throughout, he quite possibly could have been picked off — or seen a teammate cough up the football one final time.
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