BIRDLAND — It will be interesting to see how the new modified sudden death rule plays out in the playoffs next season.
The strategy will be absolutely intriguing.
Under the rule, which was passed 28-4 on Tuesday at the NFL league meetings in Orlando, a team could win on the first possession of overtime by scoring a touchdown, but if the team scores a field goal, the opposing team would receive the ball with a chance to tie with a field goal or win with a touchdown.
If the second team ties with a field goal, the game would revert to the first-to-score sudden death rule.
If the score is tied after both teams have a possession, the team next scoring by any method shall be the winner.
Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis believes that coaches will gamble more on fourth down under the new rule. Coaches may turn their noses up at that 45-yard field goal and go for the touchdown to end the game.
“If you hold them to a field goal you’re going to get the ball and you have that opportunity,” Lewis said. “There’s some strategy involved where it’s different than the (old rule.) It’s more like the end of the game where it’s a close or tied football game and there’s two minutes to go.”
Under the modified sudden death rule, maybe some teams will elect to kick if they win the overtime coin toss.
The coaches, who reportedly are not happy with the rule and how it was passed, haven’t worked through all of the strategy yet.
“A lot of the coaches say they don’t like the fact that a coach gets to use four downs against you,” Lewis said. “I say, right now I’ll trade you. You spot me the field goal in overtime and kick off to me right now. Let’s take our chances. I think we feel pretty good about that. There are a lot of elements that come into play.”
Based on several tweets from my colleagues who are in Orlando for the meetings, the coaches were not real happy with this passage. The coaches were out playing golf when the execs rushed the vote through.
The stats used to justify the vote were stats from regular season games, but the new rule only applies to postseason games.
The always astute Bob Glauber from Newsday tweeted: “Playoff stat: Since 1994 (kickoffs back to 30), 14 OT playoff games. 7 teams that won toss won game; 7 that lost toss won game.”
The problem they were trying to fix – (59.9 percent) of coin toss winners win the games — was a regular season problem, not a postseason (50 percent) problem.
Tom Silverstein, my former beat-mate on the Green Bay Packers, tweeted that: “(Packers) Pres Mark Murphy made final call for Packers OT proposal. (GM Ted) Thompson and (head coach Mike) McCarthy preferred it be for reg and postseason not just post.”
Silverstein, who’s affectionately called “Spoon” later tweeted, “Most thought OT vote would be Wed when coaches were around. But just execs were present during vote. Some reports say coaches aren’t happy.”
In the NFC championship game on Jan. 17, 1999, the greatest win in Falcons history, both teams had already had a least one possession so Morten Andersen’s field goal to make it 30-27 would have stood under the modified sudden death rule.
Therefore, Minnesota quarterback Randall Cunningham and dangerous wide receiver Randy Moss would have not have received another shot to score a touchdown with the 3:22 left.
The Falcons’ defense had already stopped the Vikings twice in overtime and had held Moss to six catches for 75 yards and one touchdown.
Just think, coach Dan Reeves was already on the rebound from his quadruple by-pass surgery. These rules wouldn’t have helped his recovery. At least he still would have been able to do the “Dirty Bird” after Andersen’s field goal.