Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's the Kicker's Fault

So, the NFL owners have passed a rule change for overtime, which makes overtime in the playoffs (but not in the regular season) more like college overtime:
The NFL owners voted to change an element in the overtime rule, giving the team that loses the coin toss at the start of overtime to get a possession if the coin-toss winning team scores a field goal with the first possession.
And their rationale for the change?
The reason for the change was the increased accuracy of kickers since 1993. In 1994, the NFL moved kickoffs from the 35 to the 30, which created better field position for the teams that won the coin toss and received the kickoffs.
Some interesting statistics can be found at this blog:
Total no. of overtime games (1974–2003) 365
Both teams had at least one possession 261 (72 %)
Team won toss and won game 189 (52 %)
Team lost toss and won game 160 (44 %)
Team won toss and drove for winning score 102 (28 %)
Games ending in a tie 15 (5 %)
One thing of note, which relates to the rationale for the rule change, is that "the cumulative data hide the effect of a rule change that occurred in 1994, when kickoffs were moved back 5 yards to the 30-yard line. Since 1994, nearly one-third of overtime games have been won on the first possession by the team that received the ball first. In the first 20 seasons, under the old rule, slightly more than one-quarter of the games were won in this fashion."

So move the kicks back to 35yd line instead of the 30. I personally am of the opinion that if you can't stop someone from scoring on you in overtime, then tough, don't cry and moan about the rules. The real reason is that this is about revenue.

As an aside, I've always thought college overtime should be more like the NFL, but oh well.

UPDATE (3/24 @ 8:25am): Thinking about this rule some more this morning. How about the first team to score a touchdown wins. If the issue is the accuracy of the kicker on field goals, then just take him out of the equation all together.

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