The NFL’s overtime rules are once again under fire after Super Bowl LI in which the Atlanta Falcons’ top-ranked offence never got the ball in the extra period before the New England Patriots won the game.
It was a bit of an ironic twist since Bill Belichick has been critical of the very rules that helped his team win the Super Bowl.
Belichick was asked about the overtime rules after a 2012 game in which his Patriots beat the New York Jets in overtime. In that game, the Patriots won 29-26 when they kicked a field goal to start overtime and then stopped the Jets on their ensuing drive.
After the game, Belichick was being interviewed by WEEI in Boston when he was asked if the rules are fair.
WEEI: Is this the fairest system? Is this the right one?
Belichick: Well I don’t like it, no.
WEEI: You don’t like it the way it is now?
Belichick: No. No because I think the best part of the football game is the end of the game. Whether you take your timeouts, how you manage the game, the last two minutes of the game, getting the ball back, trying to keep the ball away from the other team, whatever it is. I think that combines all the elements of football. … When it’s the first team to score, or however the rules are set, or the way it is in college … that’s not the end of the game.
It’s like basketball, you go and play basketball it comes down to the end of regulation, you’re making three-point shots, you’re fouling, you’re pressing trying to get the ball back. OK great, so now you’re in overtime. It’s the same thing. You get that same strategic element at the end of the basketball game.
In football, we’ve lost that with the rules that we have now.
WEEI: So would you rather see an extended period? Just one extra period?
Belichick: Put some time on the clock and play.
WEEI: Not sudden death?
Belichick: Yeah play to the end of the game. Put 10 minutes, 8 minutes, whatever we decide.
In other words, Belichick doesn’t want any kind of sudden-death situation in overtime. Rather, he just wants to play a fifth period and whoever is leading at the end is the winner. Presumably if the game is still tied in the regular season, it would be declared a tie and if still tied in the playoffs the two teams would play a sixth period, and so on.
At the end of the day, Belichick can only coach with the rules that are in place and he used those rules to win a Super Bowl. But if he had his way back in 2012, the Super Bowl would not have ended when James White scored on the opening drive of overtime.
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