Fans in the NFL were treated to arguably the greatest championship Sunday in the history of football on January 20th, 2019. Both of the AFC & NFC title games went to overtime for the first time ever, and each had thrilling comebacks where the road team walked away with a bid to the Super Bowl. The Rams beat the Saints after New Orleans was on the losing end of one of the worst “non-calls” for pass interference ever. But even though it was a blatant error by the officiating crew, the Saints were their own worst enemy in OT, and you can’t always blame the referees whenever anything goes completely wrong. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the matter at the Super Bowl.
“Whenever officiating is part of any kind of discussion postgame, it’s never a good outcome for us. We know that. Our clubs know that. Our officials know that. But we also know our officials are human. We also know that they’re officiating a game that moves very quickly and have to make snap decisions under difficult circumstances. And they’re not going to get it right all the time.”
Drew Brees also added via Instagram:
“I’ve spent this last week navigating the heartache and disappointment from the game. Some things within our control and some outside ur control that caused us to fall short. The frustration we feel now can be channeled in the same way. Pour that passion and emotion into your families and communities. Inspire others with your focus & determination and positive outlook. This will make us stronger, this will bond us tighter, this will be a source for our success in the future.”
I’ve spent this last week navigating the heartache and disappointment from the game. Some things within our control and some outside our control that caused us to fall short. So much of our motivation is to represent the Who Dat Nation with determination and resiliency. We want to play for you, fight for you, and win for you. You deserve that. The longer I play I realize that we truly are one heartbeat with our fans. Our success is your success. Our disappointment is your disappointment. We are inspired by one another to accomplish things far greater than what we could ever do on our own. Everything that has ever happened to this community, we have bonded together, galvanized and leaped forward every time. The frustration we feel now can be channeled in the same way. Pour that passion and emotion into your families and communities. Inspire others with your focus & determination and positive outlook. This will make us stronger, this will bond us tighter, this will be a source for our success in the future. There is no place like New Orleans. There is no community like ours. No fans like the Who Dat Nation. I refuse to let this hold us down. I refuse to let this create any negativity or resentment. I embrace the challenge. So keep your chin up, hold your head high, puff your chest out because WE are the Who Dat Nation and WE will always persevere.
The NFL should take note when it comes to the future success of how to proceed during OT. The system is clearly flawed and the current rule that makes a touchdown on the opening possession of overtime a guaranteed walk-off game winner? That’s simply ridiculous. The Chiefs had an amazing 4th quarter against the Patriots, but no one will ever know if they could have tied it up another time since Kansas City never got the football back.
Prior to the Packers last appearance in the postseason, where they ended up getting blown out by Atlanta in the NFC championship game, Green Bay ended each of their previous two years by losing in overtime to Arizona and Seattle. And in both of those games? Aaron Rodgers and the offense never even touched the football. Which begs the bigger question? Just how does the NFL fix their rules for possessing the football in overtime to truly make it fair. If they were to copy the college game, kickers in the NFL are so good that spotting the football at the 25-yard line doesn’t make sense. There is also no reason that both teams shouldn’t get at least one possession, regardless of whether or not a team scores a touchdown or kicks a field goal on their opening drive.
So here’s a novel idea. Instead of “sudden death” or the current set up, how about a shoot-out of sorts, similar but not exactly the same as in soccer. Each team will get five opportunities to score, either a standard kicking extra point for a 1 point conversion. Or they need to make the decision to go for two. Both squads can use them whatever way they see fit by going for 1 or 2. Could you imagine Mason Crosby giving the Packers a one-point lead, and then Green Bay‘s defense stuffs their opponent on a two-point attempt? And then, that is followed by a two-point conversion that is executed by the Packers to take a three-point lead? Think of the drama that would ensue as each team could get as little as zero points or as many as 10 over five possessions by each club.
In hindsight, the Rams made the Saints pay for their mistakes. But at least New Orleans got a chance to score. New England marched downfield at will against the Chiefs. And the current structure of overtime is just as tired as the Kansas City defense was on championship Sunday. As we saw two years ago when the Falcons were up 28-3 against the Patriots, they squandered away the lead and lost the game in overtime, without touching the football. Let’s hope we don’t see the OT become bigger than the game in Atlanta for this year’s Super Bowl, especially if it comes down to the flip of a coin.