After a controversial finish in the Bills-Chiefs game, many are left questioning current NFL overtime rules.
In a weekend full of great games, the dramatic finish in Kansas City remains on most fans’ minds. The divisional round between the Chiefs and Buffalo Bills highlighted what many believe to be a flawed overtime system.
Four quarters was not enough for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to overcome Josh Allen and the Bills at Arrowhead Stadium. After trading points back and forth, Allen was able to find Gabriel Davis for a 19 yard score with only 13 seconds left in regulation.
However, 13 seconds was too much time for Mahomes and the Chiefs offense who marched down the field to set up Harrison Butker for a 49 yard field goal to tie the game and send it to overtime.
The 25 points scored in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter became the second-most in any game of the Super Bowl era.
As overtime began, the game was decided by a coin flip. After winning the toss, the Chiefs rightly elected to receive the ball and go on offense first. An eight-play, 75 yard drive was eventually capped off by a Travis Kelce touchdown from Mahomes. Although 6:45 remained on the clock, by NFL rules, the game was over and Kansas City would advance.
According to the new overtime rules introduced in 2010, both teams have an opportunity to possess the ball unless the team receiving the kickoff scores a touchdown on their first possession. However, if the team receiving the kickoff fails to score a touchdown, the opposing team gains possession.
If the Chiefs failed to score a touchdown or opted to kick a field goal instead, the Bills would have had an opportunity to win the game with a touchdown of their own. Bills fans believe their team was not given a fair opportunity due to the current rules. Instead, many are suggesting that the coin flip decided the game.
Josh Allen’s decision to call tails might have decided more than just possession of the ball. Since the rule change in 2010, the team that wins the coin toss has won 10 of the 11 overtime games.
Interestingly, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce called for a discussion regarding a rule change following the 2019 AFC Championship in which Kansas City lost in a similar fashion, which sent the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl instead.
Those in favor of the current system argue that the rule is not unfair; rather, the Bills just needed a defensive stop.
Given the pushback from fans on social media, this game has most likely forced the NFL to address the current format and at least explore alternative options to avoid similar scenarios. One option could be to employ a system similar to that of the NCAA where both teams are given the opportunity to play offense.
Despite the controversy surrounding the overtime finish, this game will be remembered as a classic. Allen and Mahomes’ near perfect performances, as well as Gabriel Davis’ record setting four-touchdown game will live in the minds of NFL fans forever.
After being eliminated, the Bills head back to Buffalo while the Chiefs prepare to host Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals next weekend in the AFC Championship.