The NFL’s overtime rules were once again questioned during the divisional round of the playoffs this weekend.
During the Cardinals’ riveting 26-20 overtime win over the Packers on Sunday, the Packers didn’t even get a chance to take the field in overtime after the Cardinals scored on the opening driving to win it.
The finish felt like something of an injustice as Aaron Rodgers led a short-handed Packers team to a wild comeback, culminating in a 55-yard, Hail Mary to tie the game.
Many people felt that Rodgers, the biggest star on the field, should have at least gotten a chance to keep his team alive after the Cardinals scored. Alas, due to the rules, the game, and the Packers’ season, were over.
During a SportsCenter segment, ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt came up with a simple solution to fix the NFL’s overtime rules, arguing this exact point: Rodgers and the Packers should have at least gotten a chance to take the field.
“It also seemed cosmically wrong for Rodgers to not even have the chance to touch the football in overtime,” Van Pelt said.
Van Pelt argued that the NFL shouldn’t turn to college football’s rules, in which teams get the ball on their opponent’s 25-yard line, saying getting into the red zone is an achievement. He called college football’s rules “entertaining, but “not football.”
“Make the process equitable. This isn’t at all complicated. Use Saturday night, let’s say, as the template,” Van Pelt began. “Arizona gets the ball and they score a touchdown. Well done. But why should that end the game? Because it’s a touchdown. That’s awfully arbitrary — they scored, super. Simple tweak of the rules leads to a kickoff to Green Bay, with the Packers required to answer or the game ends. If they do answer with a score, then the game immediately becomes sudden-death.”
Van Pelt continued, saying that if Arizona had failed to score and punted to Green Bay, then the game would have immediately become sudden-death, meaning if Green Bay scored next, the game would be over.
Van Pelt isn’t the only person to feel this way. After the game, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews argued that the overtime rules needed tweaking. Matthews, however, is fine with the college rules (via USA Today’s Tom Pelissero).
“Let’s go college rules. Just put us on the 25 or whatever it is and let us go at it. But I don’t know. I’m sure it will be talked about. It sucks that we don’t have an opportunity.
“But those are the rules right now. We’ve got to play by them. We had an opportunity to stop them on their side of the field and force a punt and kick a field goal to win, and we didn’t do that.”
If the right people gripe about it, the NFL will have to take a look at its rules. In recent weeks, the NFL has seen two star players in Rodgers and Tom Brady (during a Week 16 overtime loss to the Jets) fail to see the field because their team didn’t get a stop on the opening drive of overtime. The NFL undoubtedly would like to see its top players on the field in the most dramatic action of the game.
Watch Van Pelt’s segment below:
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