March 01, 2010
The NFL is considering changing the way it does overtime in the playoffs. The current sudden death system, where a team can win the toss, gain a few yards, kick a field goal and walk away victorious, would die suddenly.
The new, proposed "modified sudden death" system, which will be discussed at league meetings in late March, would work like this:
1. Coin toss, as per usual. Let's say Team A wins.
2. If Team A goes on to score a touchdown, the game is over.
3. If Team A only manages a field goal, they would kick off to Team B and the game would continue.
4. If Team B then scores a touchdown, they win.
5. If Team B answers Team A's field goal with a field goal of their own, then Team B will kickoff, and we'll go back to the old sudden death rules.
But you know what has two thumbs and does like it? This guy (it helps if you imagine me pointing my thumbs at myself).
What I like about it is that it puts the value on the touchdown, because the touchdown is everything. The touchdown is the knockout punch, the golden goal, the 1-2-3 pin. The touchdown is The Hammer.
Giving up a field goal is one thing. You can, as a defense, give up a field goal and still have done a relatively decent job. If you're a defense, and you're facing Tom Brady(notes) and Randy Moss(notes), and you can keep them from even getting to the red zone, I say that's a win for you. But you can get that win, and still lose the game.
If you give up a touchdown, though, you have failed as a defense, and you should lose. I'm really sorry your offense didn't get a chance, but your defense is part of your team, too, and if they fail, you fail.
No matter how it goes, in the "modified sudden death" system, every team gets a chance to fail or succeed. If your offense didn't get a chance, it's on you because your defense failed by giving up a touchdown. And if you get beat by a field goal on a third possession, then I'm sorry, but your offense failed by not scoring a touchdown.
You cannot lose and not have had a chance to fail or succeed.
Is it perfect? No, of course not. All of the objections linked to above make reasonable, salient points. But, short of another full 15 minutes of play, there is no perfect solution. It just doesn't exist.
At least this solution takes away the option of a quick field goal, and puts the emphasis where it belongs: on the touchdown, the true measuring stick of football success or failure.
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