What if Other Sports Used the NFL Overtime Rules?

Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s national argument centers on the NFL overtime rules. It’s the big story on Action News, with Jim Gardner finding the current setup to be “absurd.”

Indeed, the NFL overtime rules are absurd. You flip a coin, the winner gets the ball, and then if they score a touchdown the game is over. The other team doesn’t even get the ball. On several occasions this has resulted in opposing superstar quarterbacks never even stepping foot on the field during overtime, like Josh Allen Sunday night and Patrick Mahomes in the 2019 AFC championship game.

People who think the rule is fine often say something like this:

“well the other team should just play defense”

Okay, yes, that’s true, but there are multiple phases of the game, and when you install a ruleset that creates scenarios where 50% of the available players sometimes do not even get into the game, then it results in a competitive imbalance where the flip of a coin plays way too much of a role in determining who wins. It’s pretty stupid, but if you’re not convinced, then try applying the NFL overtime rules to other sports, and this is what you’d get:


Los Angeles Angels at Philadelphia Phillies. The game is tied 3-3 and we’re going into the top of the tenth inning. Mike Trout hits a solo home run to walk it off for the Angels, and the Phils don’t get to bat. Contrarians go on Twitter and say “yeah well they should have pitched better.”


Flip a coin. The Lakers win and decide to have possession of the ball. If they hit a three-pointer, they win the game, but if they hit a two-pointer, the Sixers get a chance to score.


Alex Ovechkin takes the first penalty shot. If he scores, the game is over. If Carter Hart makes the save, then Claude Giroux gets to attempt a shot.


One team gets to take all of their penalty kicks first. If they convert all five, the game is over, but if they miss, or the goalkeeper makes enough saves, then his team lines up and is allowed to take PKs.


Simone Biles gets to do her floor routine first. The opposing gymnast can try to disrupt her. If Biles scores a 10, she wins. If she scores a 9, then the opponent gets to do her floor routine.


Tiger Woods goes first. If he birdies the hole, then it’s game over. But if he scores a par or a bogey, then Miguel Angel Jimenez gets to tee off (but only after doing his cool stretching routine).

Mixed martial arts

Francis Ngannou starts with side control over Ciryl Gane. If Ngannou submits Gane or TKOs him with ground and pound, game over. But if Gane gets up off the mat, now we’re cooking.


Patrick Rafter and Ivan Lendl go into overtime. Rafter gets to serve first. Lendl only gets to serve if he can break Rafter’s serve. If he fails to break serve, he loses.


See above. Any sport that uses any kind of serving would be extremely stupid with NFL overtime rules. We’re talking badminton, ping pong, even pickle ball at the Boyertown YMCA.

Jai Alai

Not sure, never watched Jai Alai. It looks cool though:


One team gets to bat in an effort to win the game. The other team only gets to bat if they defend first. At least I think that’s how cricket works. It’s a weird game and kind of boring. The matches take place over the course of several days.


Two combatants stand across from each other. The one tries to hit the other, who can only parry. They can’t RIPOSTE. They only get to fence back if they first pull off a successful defense.


See how stupid all of this is? Could you imagine a baseball game where somebody walks it off in the top of the tenth inning? Would the same people telling us that “you should just play defense” give us the same spiel? It’s a weak argument. One team has possession with the ability to score, and the other begins by defending. It’s not equal footing, which is why the college game allows the opposing offense the opportunity to match in overtime, and they keep going until somebody gets a stop or fails a two-point conversion. It’s the fair and reasonable and logical way to do it. The NFL overtime rules are “ass,” as the kids say.