If You Can't Beat The Patriots - Just Change The Rules

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Word came out of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Friday that Kansas City Head Coach Andy Reid is advancing a proposal to the NFL Rules Committee to make a change to the overtime rules to allow both teams an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime.  You may recall Reid’s Chiefs lost the AFC Championship game to the Patriots in overtime when the Pats won the coin flip in OT, elected to receive, and drove the ball the length of the field to score the game winning touchdown.  All while Kansas City’s high powered offense stood helplessly on the sideline.

Photo courtesy of patspulpit.com


Some argue that it is unfair for a team to not get a chance to possess the ball in overtime and potentially tie the score and extend the game.  This may be true, but the proposal to change the rule immediately after losing a game is petty and nothing short of poor sportsmanship.  The rule has been in place for nearly a decade, and suddenly Reid thinks it is unfair after his team loses as a result of that rule?

To put things in historical context, the NFL has already changed the overtime rule in the interest of fairness.  The original overtime rule was a strict sudden death.  A team only needed to kick a field goal to win.  This rule was changed after the 2009 NFC Championship Game, in which the Brett Favre led Minnesota Vikings lost in overtime to the New Orleans Saints on a field goal.  Favre never had the chance to get the ball, and many felt it prevented him from going to what could have been the final Super Bowl of his career.  Based largely on the results of that game, the NFL decided to change their overtime rule in 2010.  Favre never did get to another Super Bowl.

The argument for the change was it was not that difficult for a team to simply kick a field goal, needing to only gain a few first downs or make one big play to get into field goal range.  So the rule was changed so that if a team that possessed the ball first in overtime only kicked a field goal, the other team would get the chance to get the ball.  If the first team scored a touchdown, well, you had a chance to stop the opponent and couldn’t do it.  Game over.


Shop for official New England Patriots fan gear and authentic collectibles at NFLShop.comBut now the Patriots have won an AFC Championship Game and a Super Bowl with a first possession touchdown in overtime (don’t forget the win over the Falcons came in OT).  And now a bitter coach wants to change the rule to be even more fair.  Why is it that when the Patriots win a game playing entirely within the rules, it is somehow perceived to be unfair? 

Remember when the Patriots played bump and run defense on the pass happy Colts when Peyton Manning was in his prime?  The NFL responded by changing the defensive contact rules, which has led to the Arena Ball style offenses we see today.  Can’t beat the Patriots within the current rules?  Just change them.

If the overtime rule is changed again, it would be poetic justice if the Patriots and Chiefs match up in the 2020 AFC Championship Game and the game once again goes into overtime.  Only this time, the Chiefs get the ball first and score a touchdown.  Under the old rule, the game is over and the Chiefs are going to the Super Bowl.  (Do you see where I’m going with this?)

But instead, now Tom Brady jogs out onto the field and leads the Patriots to a game tying touchdown.  The game goes on, and the Patriots eventually win.  Will Reid want to then change the rule back?  Instead of trying to change the rules to make up for a loss, maybe Reid should be working on improving his defense to not allow a team to drive 75 yards to score a game winning touchdown. 

It is one thing to change a rule as the game evolves due to natural player advancement or development.  For example, the changes to the kickoff rules were made with safety in mind because of the size and speed of the current player.  But to change a rule because you thought it wasn’t fair that you lost under the old rule is the kind of stuff we used to do on the playground in elementary school.  Everybody knows the rules coming into the game.  Just play by them.


Follow me on Twitter @Btravers_SYN.

New England Patriots Super Bowl Champs

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Boston Sports Syndicate: If You Can't Beat The Patriots - Just Change The Rules
If You Can't Beat The Patriots - Just Change The Rules
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