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A first step

March 22, 2010 - Mike McLain

NFL owners will consider a change in the overtime format to be used in playoff games when they meet this week in Orlando.

The proposed change would give the team that loses the coin toss a chance to tie the score or win the game if the team that wins the toss kicks a field goal. If the team with first possession scores a touchdown, the game is over. If both teams kick a field goal, the game would then proceed in a sudden-death format.

The league is obviously concerned about what happened last season in the NFC Championship game between the Saints and Vikings. The Saints won the coin toss and then won the game with a field goal.

Any change in the format is long overdue. It's ridiculous for two teams to play even through four quarters and one wins simply because it wins a coin toss.

There's no need to make drastic changes, like adopting the style used in the college and high school games. The alernating possessions from the 20-yard line (high schools) and 25-yard line (colleges), can lead to lengthy games. That would be asking too much from NFL players, who play a more physical game compared to any other level.

Some coaches won't like the proposed change because of the strategy that would be involved. Under the current format, when a team is deep in enemy territory is simply kicks a field goal and wins. The proposed rule would force coaches to decide between kicking a field goal on fourth down or going for a first down in order to lengthen the drive and possibly produce a touchdown.

I kind of like the idea. It would add more intrigue to the game. The days of knowing the game is over when a team nears the opposition's 20 would be history.

From all indications, the change has a good chance of being approved this week. That would clear the way for the change to eventually be used in regular-season games.

Again, any change to the current system is needed. A playoff game shouldn't be won on a game of chance.





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