A Game for the Ages Sparks Call for Rule Change

Chiefs beat the Bills in OT, and Buffalo didn't get a chance to touch the ball
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2022 6:35 AM CST
A Game for the Ages Sparks Call for Rule Change
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen walks off the field after Sunday's overtime loss to Kansas City.   (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

(Newser) – All four NFL playoff games over the weekend were decided on the final play, but it's how the last game finished that has a lot of sportswriters agitated. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills 42-36 in overtime, and critics say the league's OT rules badly need an update.

  • What happened: It was an astonishing finish. The teams combined for 25 points in the final two minutes of regulation, capped when Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes led his team to a tying field goal on a 13-second drive. The Chiefs won the toss in overtime, scored a TD, and the game was over. Buffalo QB Josh Allen, who had late heroics of his own in regulation, never got a chance to touch the ball.

  • Change 'em: Mark Cannizzaro writes in the New York Post that it's unfair the game was essentially decided by a coin toss. The NFL can keep OT rules as is for the regular season, but they make no sense in the playoffs, he writes. Anyone who thinks it makes sense this "instant classic" ended the way it did is "either heartless or clueless."
  • Ditto: "How about for the playoffs, each team gets a chance with the ball in OT?" writes Caroline Darney at USA Today. The piece rounds up "understandably furious" reaction on social media.
  • Ditto, II: "Overtime rules in virtually every other sport, from baseball to golf, give both challengers an equal shot, leaving the outcome of the game in the hands of the players, not the fates," writes Jay Busbee at Yahoo Sports. "In the NFL, all you need to do is call heads or tails correctly for a huge advantage."
  • Karma: Scott Davis at Insider notes that Mahomes was actually on the receiving end of the playoff rule three years ago in the playoffs when Tom Brady beat the Chiefs in OT with an opening-drive TD. This time, the rule worked in his favor. The piece runs through some possible rule tweaks, including playing an overtime with a fixed time period.
  • The formula: "The right solution guarantees an equal number of possessions and declares a winner based on who makes a stop," writes Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk. "That’s all we’re looking for. Something that seems fair, at a visceral level," and the Chiefs-Bills outcome "simply doesn’t feel that way."
  • Otherwise: "Do not argue the point: That Chiefs-Bills game was the greatest NFL game ever played," writes Gary Gramlin at Sports Illustrated. Even before the "unbelievable crescendo," the game had lived up to the hype ahead of the matchup.
(Read more NFL stories.)

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