New overtime rules for the playoffs this Saturday

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HAROLD Louis

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  • New overtime rules for the playoffs this Saturday

New overtime rules for the playoffs this Saturday

The Sudden death is no more. At least not in the playoffs the previous overtime rules won’t apply anymore. Teams and coaches are scrambling to get their game plans in order for the new rules because they are a game changer.

Normally when a team scores in the overtime, the game is over and that team wins the game. After a long hard struggle a 40 yard field goal decides the game. That isn’t unfair by any means. However that is a bit of a disappointment when a game is settled like that. More so in the regular season than in the playoffs so the rules have been slightly changes. The rules would apply only to the playoffs and in the next regular season the sudden death rules would be in effect again.

Henceforth if a game goes into overtime, it wouldn’t be decided by the first team to score even if it is just a field goal. In the event of a field goal on the first possession, the possession would go to the other team who could either then win the game the game with a touchdown of tie the scores again with a field goal. After that the second possession the team that scores wins. The game would go into sudden death and the first team to score would win the game regardless of how they scored. However even on the first possession, if a team scores a touchdown, they win the game.

The changes might not appear to be much but they require a radical new approach to overtime strategy and play. The teams that get a bye week in the regular season are fortunate for more than the obvious reason. The obvious reason is that they get more time to rest their players, have fewer injuries in their game and get to plan a strategy against their opponent. What they are also able to do is plan their overtime strategy.

Conventional wisdom no longer applies when scoring a field goal may or may not help you win the game. “This can influence decision-making, especially how you play the last couple minutes of a ball game, in terms of playing for the tie or win in regulation,” Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “There are a lot of situations that you have to coach differently in overtime.”

Countless scenarios could present themselves in the final few minutes and in the playoffs the stakes couldn’t be higher. The teams now have the added preparation to deal with. One thing that could change would be punt return strategies. If a team has to punt the ball, the defensive side would have to put extra protection over the ball because a turnover would count as possession. The team with the first possession could then just win with the first field goal.

End zone interceptions would also be handled differently. Instead of making the player run for it, they could be instructed to tread the less dangerous path and take the touchback. With a touchback, a team wouldn’t risk turning over the ball within field goal range. Also the offense would have to pursue the field goal more aggressively because that is the only way they could win on the first possession. The rule was changed so that important games aren’t decided on the first field goal.

Many times it has happened before. In the past decade three playoff games were decided on the first possession during the over time. Most recently, the New Orleans Saints won the AFC championship with an overtime field goal on the first possession against the Minnesota Vikings.

Anything that makes the game more exciting than it already is would be a welcomed change. We could get the first glimpses of how the new rules impact the game this Saturday as the wildcard round kicks off.

 

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