OT rules proposal comes too late for Vikings

Brad Childress (Hannah Foslien/AP)

The owners will look at changing the rules of overtime in the NFL, and it would seem that the Vikings' loss in the NFC Championship might have been altered if the proposed new rules were in place then.

While it won't do the Vikings any good, the way they bowed out of the NFC playoffs in January may never happen again. Next Wednesday, NFL owners are likely to vote on changes to the overtime policy for playoff games that will allow both teams to have the football at least once if the opening drive doesn't result in a touchdown.

The owners will vote on the proposal, which was recommended by the league's competition committee, where a team would have to score a touchdown on the first possession of overtime to end the game. In the case of the Vikings and Saints, where New Orleans scored a field goal on the first possession, the Vikings would have had a chance to get at least one possession. If the Vikings would have had the rule in place and scored a field goal of their own on their first possession, normal sudden-death rules would have then applied.

Proponents of the rule point to field goal accuracy as the primary reason for the change. From the time overtime was created in 1974 until 1993, both the team that won the toss in overtime and the team didn't won 46.8 percent of the times – with the other 6.5 percent of games ending in ties. Since 1994, the team that won the toss has won overtime games 59.8 percent of the time, with 26.2 percent of the wins coming on the first possession.

"Changes occurred over time. Now the numbers have changed pretty dramatically," said Rich McKay of the Competition Committee. "Now the team that wins the toss wins 59.8% and the team that loses the toss wins 38.5%. The pros of the switch is it tries to rebalance the advantage that's been gained since '94 based on field goal accuracy being greatly improved, field position being improved.

"So I would say to you that there are advocates who will say that we're trying to put in a system that emphasizes more skill and more strategy in overtime as opposed to the randomness of the coin flip."

Although the rule is intended to give both teams a fair chance in overtime, it may create its own set of problems. If the team that gets the opening kickoff scores a field goal, it would allow the other team to take chances on fourth downs to get into field goal range themselves and potentially hit a big play that could result in a touchdown and defeat the team that won the coin toss and scored. It might need some tweaking after being implemented, but it would appear that the Vikings playoff loss is having a ripple effect, as other owners don't want what happened to Minnesota to potentially happen to their teams in the future.

THURSDAY NOTES

  • Other rules changes to be voted on at the owners meeting will include blowing plays dead whenever a player loses a helmet, giving receiver extra protection against hits when they're in a defenseless position and prohibiting defensive players from lining up "within the frame" of the long snapper on field goals and extra points.

  • LaDainian Tomlinson appeared on the Dan Patrick radio show Wednesday and said his decision to pick the Jets over the Vikings had more to do with the chance of winning, his familiarity with the offense and his chance to get playing time than it did money. He admitted the Vikings offered him more money than the Jets did, but chose New York for the aforementioned reasons.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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