Patriots win another playoff OT coin toss, spark questions about fairness of NFL rules

Jason Owens

In 2002, the New England Patriots beat the Oakland Raiders in what’s widely referred to as the “Tuck Rule” game.

In a game largely credited with sparking the New England dynasty, the Patriots beat the Raiders that snowy day in Foxborough, Massachusetts, aided by a controversial call that ruled what appeared to be a Tom Brady fumble an incomplete pass when officials invoked the tuck rule.

Patriots won coin toss, game

The Patriots retained possession on the critical play and ended up forcing overtime, where they won the coin toss and eventually scored on an Adam Vinatieri field goal to win the divisional playoff game. In 2002, the first team to score in overtime won the game, regardless of whether it was via field goal or touchdown.

They eventually went on to their first Super Bowl win, an upset over the Kurt Warner-led St. Louis Rams.

The win started a playoff trend for the Patriots.

Patriots now 3-for-3 in playoff OT coin tosses

It was the first of three overtime playoff games for the Patriots in the Brady/Bill Belichick dynasty. Each time, the Patriots won the overtime coin toss. And each time, the Patriots offense took care of business on the field to secure the victory before the opposing offense had a chance to take the field in the extra session.

It happened in Super Bowl LI, when Brady led a drive that resulted in a James White touchdown to cap a comeback from a 28-3 deficit against the Atlanta Falcons to claim the Patriots’ fifth Super Bowl win.

It happened again on Sunday when Brady led another game-winning touchdown drive against the Kansas City Chiefs to secure his ninth Super Bowl appearance, this time against the Los Angeles Rams.

Patrick Mahomes was forced to watch Tom Brady dissect a tired Chiefs defense in OT without being provided the opportunity to return the favor. (Getty)
Patrick Mahomes was forced to watch Tom Brady dissect a tired Chiefs defense in OT without being provided the opportunity to return the favor. (Getty)

Like Rich Gannon and Matt Ryan before him, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes did not get a chance to take the field in the extra session on Sunday.

It’s a further testament to Brady’s greatness. When given the opportunity to close big games out, he slams the door shut.

But it also raises questions about NFL overtime rules. In games with such significant stakes attached, is it fair to allow the flip of a coin to carry so much weight?

Should Mahomes have gotten another chance?

Sure, the Chiefs, like the Falcons and Raiders before them, had their chances to stop Brady. They didn’t, and Brady made them pay.

But after 60 minutes of football, offenses go into overtime with a significant advantage. Tired defenses stand less of a chance of making stops after playing a full regulation game than they do at opening kickoff.

Is it right that Mahomes had to sit and watch Brady dissect the porous Chiefs defense without having the chance to do the same against a Patriots unit his team just got done dropping 31 points on in the second half?

No. It’s not.

Players sacrifice too much for this random of an outcome

Football is a physical, violent game that wears its players down. Ending games as quickly as possible is a reasonable priority on the front of players’ health. The rules in place are fine for the regular season.

But when these players have spent sixty-plus minutes banging into each other at the end of a 16-game regular season with a Super Bowl appearance on the line, they’re due an outcome that’s decided in the most fair manner possible.

What happened Sunday was not that. Mahomes and the Chiefs offense deserved another shot.

There’s no perfect solution to deciding overtime football games in a fair manner. But a rule that doesn’t give both teams an equal chance to possess the ball in a win-or-go-home situation is not the correct one.

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