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Memo to NFL: Defense matters in OT

Janikowski’s strong leg gives Raiders advantage in OT
(P A Patterson Photo)

Attention NFL owners and general managers, if your team loses the coin toss for overtime, and the other team marches down and scores to end the game, it is not the rule’s fault-it’s your defense.

From the NFL’s trying to fix what shouldn’t be considered broken department, the competition committee is looking at ways to fix the supposed “unfairness” of a team winning the opening the opening coin toss and marching down the field to score and win the game. Every time this happens, there is hand-wringing and whining about the other team not getting a chance. However, the other team had multiple chances to make plays to stop the other team. It is called playing defense.

In the 2009 there were two playoff games that went into overtime. Of those two games, one of them was won by the team that won the coin toss and a field goal and the other game was won by the team that lost the coin toss. In fact, the game that was lost by the team that team that won the toss was won without the team that lost the toss never playing a down of offense.

The NFL’s competition committee has endorsed a plan that would complicate the overtime rules and ensure ‘fairness.’ Under the plan currently circulating, if the team that wins the toss scores a touchdown, it is game over. If they score a field goal, then the other team gets a chance to score. Once the first set of possessions is over, then it reverts to sudden death. This is needlessly complicating something that has worked for the NFL since 1955.

The so called unfairness of sudden death is ridiculous. Both teams had their chances to win the game during the 60 minutes of regulation. In fact, inevitably one of the two teams made a choice late in the game that it would be better to sit on the ball and go to overtime rather than opening up the offense and playing to win the game. (Cue Herman Edwards.)

Also, by saying the other team had no “chance” completely discounts the role that their special teams and/or defense played in allowing the other opportunity to move down the field for a score. This rule is being talked about because of the NFL championship game where the New Orleans Saints offense drove down the field and didn’t let Brett Favre on the field to have his “chance” to lead the Vikings down the field to answer. However, Favre did have a “chance” to lead the Vikings down the field late in regulation, and had them at the edge of filed goal range, but he threw an interception. Had Favre not thrown that pick, he wouldn’t have needed a “chance” in overtime.

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The other overtime game of the postseason was the between Green Bay Packers and the Arizona Cardinals. That game had been an offensive shootout, and everyone was expecting it would be the poster-child for the NFL’s fairness doctrine where the team that loses the toss needs to get a “chance.” However, something completely unexpected happened. The Cardinals defense made a play, and forced Aaron Rodgers into a fumble-ception that was returned for a touchdown. The Cardinals offense didn’t need a “chance” because the defense did their job.

Even Hall of Fame Raider safety Rod Woodson agrees with my assessment, per Rich Eisen on Twitter: This is the EXACT stance of Rod Woodson. Tune in to NFLTA at 7ET RT @p_a_patterson If that (team winning the toss winning the game) ever happens in the Super Bowl blame the defense.

If this was Pop Warner or PeeWee Football, that would be one thing, but it is not. It is the NFL. These men are the absolute best at what they do. Some of them play offense and others play defense. As overtime stands, it becomes the first team to make a big play, will win it. If that big play comes from the offense-there it goes. However, the defense can make big plays too. There has been been some talk of the NFL going completely insane and adopting the insipid college overtime that would completely destroy the integrity of the game.

For more info: Check out RaiderNews.com for the latest on the Oakland Raiders.