The Best Way to Determine a Playoff Game. Why not Fucking Flip a Coin?

I have hated the NFL overtime rule forever and it only became worse when college football instituted its far superior system. For a long time,  I have actually been rooting for a Super Bowl to end in overtime, with the team that won the coin flip being victorious.  I figured it would take this to force the league to change their current abomination.  To play a game, balls-out, for 60 minutes and then have the words heads or tails be the most important element is just asinine.  Then add to its complete dramatic letdown that the rule of who scores first ends up making the kicker the most important figure on the field.  Fucking ridiculous.

Now I will admit that I’m an Indianapolis Colts fan, so my venom is especially fierce when it comes to their battle with the Chargers last weekend.  Since I’m not exactly an impartial observer, I will post what Peter King wrote in his must-read Monday Morning QB column.

The Boomtown Rats Don’t Like Mondays. I Don’t Like Overtime. Actually, I love overtime. Great drama. I just hate the NFL’s overtime rule, which puts an inordinate value on whether the visiting-team captain calls heads or tails. The Colts called heads Saturday night. It came up tails. So this is how the game sends Tony Dungy into his retirement deliberations — with the NFL MVP standing on the sidelines, never able to touch the ball with the season on the line. So in 2008, nine of the 15 overtime games have been one-possession periods. Nine out of 15. I know what you overtime-rule lovers are saying: Defense is half the game, so if you want to win in overtime, stop ’em on the first possession and go down and score. True. So why, after every coin flip in overtime, do the winning players and the home crowd (if the home teams wins the flip) get all euphoric? Because they know it’s a huge advantage. Who wouldn’t rather have the ball first when the first team to score wins? In regular-season history, by the way, 141 games (33 percent of all games) have been won on the first possession. That’s 141 unfair games.

Exactly.  The only thing that gives me some solace is that Colts GM Bill Polian has fought to preserve this horrible system during rule-committee meetings.  Now how dare I claim I understand this issue better than a Hall of Fame GM.  Well, I do.   I think Bill Polian is probably the greatest GM in NFL history (see his time in Buffalo, Carolina, and Indy), but he’s wrong on this one and it ended up biting him on the ass.  I can tell you the reason why NFL coaches don’t want the college overtime rule.  It would challenge them to have to make tougher decisions than we take the ball down the field and kick it.  If you don’t want to risk having multiple overtimes, (I’ve heard this reason for not having each team have the ball at the 25.  Players are tired and would be more apt for injury.) have it work like what college does in the 3rd overtime.  Force teams to have to go for 2 after each TD.  If I wanted to watch kickers, I would be a fucking soccer fan.

On that note, I will say that the MVP of the wild card round of the playoffs was punter Mike Scifres.  I was a punter throughout my football career (cue Glory Days) and as a kid I even tried to have a Rockette follow-through like Ray Guy.  I watch special teams a lot more closely than most do and I can tell you, I have never seen a punter come close to approaching the game Scifres had on Saturday.  The guy was in one of those Sleepy Floyd-like zones that few will ever approach.  Once again, let me use Peter King to illuminate my point.

Other than maybe those couple of Arctic playoff games in Foxboro, this might have been the toughest, most physically and mentally taxing game of Peyton Manning‘s career. You’re on the road, you can’t hear, you’re playing a team with nothing to lose and a defense that’s on fire, and you never get the ball on any of your 12 possessions in better field position than your own 33-yard line. The starting points of Indianapolis’ 12 drives: 10, 19, 3, 33, 7, 20, 26, 9, 20, 21, 1, 19. I laughed all day Sunday when I kept hearing from the experts about how Peyton Manning didn’t look much like an MVP on Saturday night. No crap, Sherlock! Pretty hard to be great when you’re on the road in the playoffs and your average starting point all night is the 16-yard line.

Sure Peyton Manning has a long list of big game disasters, but this last one was one of those days where it was hard to point at what he could have done better.  Scifres wrecked him.  Add to this how bad the Colts punt team was and the Colts lost more yards in this particular category than any game I can recall.  Oh and let me also note that poor Peter King has to say No crap.  I realize that SI.com is being read at work by people who are controlled by net filters, but Jesus Fucking Alou does it dull the writing.  Hey Peter, if you ever feel like writing exactly what you want, come over here and pen a guest column.

Final note on this game.  Nice move on the NFL’s part deciding to have referee a playoff game the crew that called the most penalties of any in the league.  Just like when you see a certain umpires behind the plate and you go, well this game is going to be obstructed by the jackass in blue, the same thing happens to me when I see the face of head ref Ron Winter.  The Colts were the second-least penalized team in the NFL, but on Saturday night they ended up with 74 yards in flaggage, which is 15 more than the second-worst team this weekend, Baltimore.

I know this whole rant sounds like sour grapes.  Well, I would agree to a certain extent, as it took a couple of major fuckups by the Chargers to even keep the Colts in the game, but for such an exciting contest to wind up being decided by a coin flip and a crew of whistle-happy zebras was a major letdown. Instead we have a .500 regular season record in the Conference semi-finals, while the 11-5 Patriots are at home.  Don’t even me get me started on that one.

4 thoughts on “The Best Way to Determine a Playoff Game. Why not Fucking Flip a Coin?

  1. Defense is part of football too. There’s nothing inherently unfair about a coin flip; in fact, it’s the only thing that’s truly fair. Sometimes your defense needs to make a stop to win a football game, why should overtime be any different?

    If you want to argue that field goals shouldn’t be allowed in overtime, that’s something that I can live with, but I don’t want to watch a game until midnight because it’s quintuple overtime and both defenses are exhausted and playing bad football.

    The only thing wrong with the overtime rule in the NFL is that the rules are weighted to create higher scoring games, so good defense is harder to play than good offense.

  2. I get the theory, except that if it was an even proposition, the team that wins the flip would 50 percent of the time choose to kickoff and go on defense. Marty Morningwheg pretty much sealed his firing as head coach of the Lions when he decided to kick the ball in this situation. The percentage of teams that get the ball first in OT win the game too much of the time. The advantage goes to the coin flip winner the whole game, as even if they get stopped the first time, they get another chance first, once again. Another bonus of the college OT system, as the teams flip-flop going last (the best position) each time.

    If both teams get the ball and are forced to go for 2, I really doubt the games would go much longer than the current system. This is the small failure of the college game, as both teams should have 2 go for 2 from the beginning.

  3. I dislike the college system because it feels contrived and artificial. Not as bad as hockey shootouts, but approaching it.

    Play 7.5 minute OT periods (eighths?). Still tied after 15 OT minutes, it’s a tie in the regular season (wasn’t there an OT tie this season?). Playoffs? You play until a period ends with a winner. Simple, with real football, just like the first four quarters.

    I had the same immediate reaction to “no crap, sherlock”. Dumb, but without the alliteration, not worth writing either.

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