NFL needs to adapt the AFL’s overtime rules

The sports world was captivated by the finish between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals late Saturday night.

Two Hail Mary’s on one drive by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers sent the game overtime despite Green Bay starting that drive deep inside it’s own territory. After all the craziness of the game-tying pass, everyone settled in for a nice, competitive overtime period.

Except that the overtime finished before it could really get going.

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer scrambled and found receiver Larry Fitzgerald all by himself for a massive gain to inside the Green Bay 5-yard line. Two plays later, Palmer pitched the ball to Fitzgerald for the game-ending touchdown.

Three plays. Game. Over.

Now, the Packers will be the first to say that the overtime rules weren’t the only reason they lost and that they other chances to take the game. But as a fan of sports in general and with no dog in this hunt, I feel cheated. That overtime could have been epic. Now a lot of people are asking if there’s a better way to settle a tie game.

Turns out, there is. The Arena Football League, despite all the ridicule it gets, has the best overtime system in all of football. And it’s time that the NFL looks at adopting it.

The overtime rules for the AFL are the best of both worlds. It combines college football and NFL overtime rules. Teams play a normal quarter, like in the NFL version, but each team gets at least possession, like the college game. If it’s still tied after each team has a shot, then it becomes sudden death, going back to the NFL way.

What amazes me is that the NFL has yet to adopt this system. Yes, a couple of years ago they changed it up so that the first team with the ball can’t win it with just a field goal, but why not go further. A simple coin flip (or no flip in Saturday’s case) shouldn’t decide a game, especially with so much riding in the balance. Each quarterback ought to have a chance to control his future, not rely on his defense. Can you imagine the legend of Aaron Rodgers if he led the Packers back in overtime after that touchdown and they ended winning? Instead, he had to watch from the sidelines like everyone else, which hardly seems right.

And I know that people are going to say “well, life’s not fair, so it doesn’t matter.” But it’s not about doing it fair; it’s about doing it right. If there’s a better way of doing something, shouldn’t, you know, do it that way?

Now, I’m not blaming the overtime rules for Green Bay’s loss. They probably shouldn’t have been in that situation to begin with. And their defense shouldn’t have left Fitzgerald that wide open to essentially end the game.

But as a sports fan, I feel cheated. Last night’s game was epic, but it could have been even better had Rodgers had a chance to tie the game and increase his legend. We should have at least gotten a chance to see that.

If the NFL wants the best teams to win in overtime, especially with the increased stakes of a playoff game, then it’s time that they adopt the AFL’s overtime rules.