Rams, Chiefs Prevail in Classic Doubleheader

Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp
Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Divisional - Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these emails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Lions fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Los Angeles Rams 30 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27

Scott Spratt: The Bucs won't have an injured Tristan Wirfs at right tackle today. Wirfs led regular tackles with a 1.2% blown block rate per Sports Info Solutions.

Bryan Knowles: Between Wirfs, Andrew Whitworth, and David Bakhtiari, it has not been a great week for top NFC tackles.

Aaron Schatz: Josh Wells (Wirfs' replacement) was good on the first Bucs drive. Joseph Noteboom (Whitworth's replacement) even better on the first Rams drive. A couple of long pass plays, including picking up first-and-20 with Odell Beckham and a lot of YAC. Finally stalled out near the goal line, field goal makes it 3-0 Rams.

Bryan Knowles: Normally I'd be yelling at the Rams for end zone fades on third down—and maybe I still should be—but it worked with Odell Beckham against the Cardinals. Still think there are higher-percentage plays they could be running down there.

Scott Spratt: Wells fared a bit worse on a third down on the second Bucs drive when the Rams shifted Aaron Donald to defensive end. Donald beat Wells to the edge and hit Tom Brady to force a maybe-incompletion, maybe-sack and fumble. Either way, it's another three-and-out.

Bryan Knowles: I loath taunting calls. The two biggest plays on the Rams' first touchdown drive were both Tampa Bay penalties. One was a 16-yard pass interference which was a bit borderline, but fine. The other, however, was on Ndamukong Suh, after clobbering Stafford on a naked bootleg, getting flagged for taunting. On the list of "things Suh has done after making a big play," this was about a 0.1 on a scale of 1 to 10, and yet it's 15 free yards, moving the Rams into the red zone. Hate it.

Derrick Klassen: Matthew Stafford has managed the pocket exceptionally well so far. The offensive line is holding up fine, but in the handful of instances the Bucs have been able to crush the pocket, Stafford has done a great job finding space and keeping his cool. Going to be a huge advantage for the Rams if Stafford and the offensive line can keep that up.

Vince Verhei: Yes, but there have been mistakes too—the interceptable pass thrown way behind Cooper Kupp in the end zone, and another one on the next drive (which I think was wiped out by penalty). Every throw with him is an A or a D-.

Dave Bernreuther: It really is, Vince. He's either the missing piece to a super team or looks like he's throwing with the wrong hand. (This is exactly why I made my foolish contrarian Cardinals play in the fantasy draft.) That throw on the penalty play was worse than any underthrown DPI I have seen in terms of deserving the yards gained.

So far, though, his A throws are doing what they need to, while the pass rush is getting close enough to Brady to force a bunch of Bs and Cs, thus the two-score (back down to one now) lead.

Vince Verhei: The Rams keep moving Donald to left end on third down to match him up against the backup right tackle. The Bucs keep refusing to get their backup right tackle any help. Guess how that's going.

Carl Yedor: Through the first quarter, the battle of the banged-up offensive lines has favored the Rams. Brady has been under more duress than Stafford, and it has been showing up with how much time Stafford has had to pick apart the Buccaneers' secondary. It was only 10-3 at the start of the second quarter, but on third-and-long, Tampa Bay completely turned Cooper Kupp, of all people, loose down the sideline. Easy pitch-and-catch for Los Angeles, and it's now a 17-3 advantage. Tampa Bay looked to be finding some answers for how to better mitigate their concerns up front on their most recent drive, but they're a bit behind the eight ball now.

Bryan Knowles: I am not entirely sure how Cooper Kupp, of all people, gets free on third-and-20. There are coverage mistakes, there are busted coverages, and then there's whatever the heck that was. Carlton Davis just passed Kupp off to air.

Aaron Schatz: Mike Edwards was the deep safety in what looked like Cover-2 and two receivers went deep on that side and Edwards picked the wrong one (Van Jefferson). Actually, on further look, he really picked the wrong one because it is TAMPA-2, not just Cover-2, and Devin White has Jefferson coming up the seam and Edwards really needed to be on the outside where Kupp was.

Dave Bernreuther: That type of play is why I stopped enjoying college football. Cooper Kupp was so wide open that he had time to stop and wait for the underthrown pass, and then after the defenders caught up while he stood still, he still ran away from them and scored anyway.

We have talked plenty all season about how bad the Bucs' secondary is. They look worse than that so far today. There were two penalties on that play too.

Bryan Knowles: A lot of "the Bucs' secondary is bad" has been due to injuries. Everyone's back today! Maybe they're rusty from not getting to play with one another for most of the year.

Vince Verhei: Let's not overlook how Edwards (apparently) blew the coverage, but then also missed the tackle. He should have had Kupp down right around the 20-yard line.

Aaron Schatz: Bucky Brooks disagrees with me on the coverage bust, but I think it was Tampa-2 not Cover-2.

Scott Spratt: Meanwhile, Mike Evans is drawing a lot of Jalen Ramsey in coverage today. Ramsey defended Evans on just two of his 10 targets earlier this season when the Bucs had a healthy Chris Godwin.

Scott Spratt: Brady just drew the Bucs' third unsportsmanlike penalty for yelling at the refs for missing a Von Miller shot to his chin. And to prove he's right in that, Brady is bleeding from his mouth.

Vince Verhei: Brady followed with a one-legged fadeaway to Leonard Fournette for a second-and-long conversion. It was such an absurdly good play I laughed out loud. That and the scramble-drill lob to Rob Gronkowski that set up their first field goal were Mahomes-esque plays. Obviously, they're the exception so far today, but still pretty amazing to see from a guy who is literally getting gray-haired.

Dave Bernreuther: The worst part to me about Whitworth being out was that it cost us the matchup of the two grey-haired elder statesmen.

Vince Verhei: We mentioned in the preview that the Rams had a big edge in special teams. So far we have seen the Bucs miss a field goal, put a kickoff out of bounds, and had three kickoff returns tackled at or inside their 20-yard line.

Scott Spratt: A 28-3 halftime score isn't out of question at this point.

Bryan Knowles: I'm fairly sure half the Rams would rush on the field to sack Matthew Stafford themselves if Los Angeles tried to go for two to make this 28-3. Some fates you don't tempt.

Dave Bernreuther: You tempted it just by saying that. That's a fumble. Having landed on his head, Came Akers wasn't down when the ball came out.

Scott Spratt: I actually don't know this rule, is the head down like an elbow or knee?

Vince Verhei: Anything other than the feet or hands counts as being down, but I'm pretty sure the ball was loose by then.

Aaron Schatz: I think the ball is moving before his head hits.

Dave Bernreuther: I actually thought head wouldn't mean down, but it was clearly out before that anyway (and also, since there was contact, I'm wrong and dumb anyway).

J.P. Acosta: That looks like a fumble to me. Potentially a huge swing, because the Rams were probably going to score there and make it 27-3. But Brady looks so uncomfortable in the pocket. On that interception, it was a good read, he just didn't step into and drive the ball because of the threat of pressure.

Vince Verhei: Like all Bucs games, this is pass-wacky on both sides of the ball. Bucs handed off on each of their first three plays and took a knee at the end; in between, they passed on 23 out of 26 plays. The Rams, meanwhile, have passed on 25 of 37 plays.

The other story is field position. Average starting field position for Tampa Bay: their own 17-yard line, with no drives starting outside their own 25. (Even if you ignore their last drive after the fumble, that average only improves to their own 20.) For the Rams, average start is their own 41-yard line, with only one drive inside their own 25.

Bryan Knowles: Per ESPN, the Buccaneers have had two plays all game where their offensive line has held up for 2.5 seconds, their definition of a pass-block win. Some of that is Brady throwing the ball out quickly, of course, but if you can't give your quarterback three seconds from time to time, you're going to have a long day. And one of those two successes was the interception anyway. Bucs need to figure out something protection-wise in the second half if they're going to come back. I'm not sure what you can figure out against "Aaron Donald lines up everywhere and wins, and Von Miller takes the other side," but I would hope that the Bucs coaching staff is slightly more creative than I am.

Carl Yedor: Tampa Bay's best shot at getting enough stops to make the improbable comeback here probably centers on the Rams shifting too far toward the run here in the second half. Obviously burning clock is important with such a large lead, but if the Rams decide to turtle and play it safe by shifting away from early-down passes, the Buccaneers might be able to get back in it. The counter to that if you're Los Angeles is to just keep throwing the ball seeing as you have had so much success with it already.

Tom Gower: Halftime has Rams up 20-3. I emphasized the importance of third down in the previous matchup, notably the deep shot to DeSean Jackson early in the second half that came on a third-and-10. And there was Cooper Kupp's 70-yard touchdown on third-and-20, and the Bucs getting stopped on their first third down most drives (they were 2-for-6 in the first half, with their only two conversions that came on the drive ending in Ryan Succop's missed field goal). The Rams were 3-for-6. Their first touchdown drive didn't face any first downs, with a potential third-and-1 averted via taunting penalty, but the other two third-down conversions came on the second field goal drive.

The key to the game so far feels like the Wirfs injury. The Bucs are playing like they're scared to death of their pass protection, and ESPN's pass block win rate stats suggest they're correct to do so. They're not getting yards in huge chunks, with Gronkowski's 29-yard catch-and-run their longest play, thus the premium on third downs. And as I'm typing that sentence, just to emphasize my point, Tyler Johnson can't haul in a third-and-3 pass on the Bucs' first drive of the second half.

Bryan Knowles: Adding injury to insult, Josh Wells was hobbling and going to the medical tent. So Tampa Bay's now down to their third-string right tackle, and it's getting late early…

Vince Verhei: More Rams special teams in the second half. Johnny Hekker's punt from midfield pins Tampa Bay at their own 5. Bucs go three-and-out, and Brandon Powell returns the punt 33 yards to the Tampa Bay 28.

J.P. Acosta: The Rams get so uncreative in the red zone, it's kinda shocking. But a quarterback sneak does the trick, and this is getting out of hand.

Bryan Knowles: It was a better Stafford sneak than we saw last week! And, well, I know to never count out playoff Tom Brady, I know 28-3 was a thing, I know all of this…

… I think that's ballgame. I don't think the Buccaneers have the time, the protection, or the firepower to carve in to a three- or four-score lead with a quarter and a half left to play.

Aaron Schatz: The ultimate San Francisco 49ers nostalgia journey would be to have to go through Dallas, Green Bay, the Los Angeles Rams, and then Cincinnati to win a Super Bowl.

Josh Wells is now out at right tackle. The Bucs now have rookie Nick Leverett there. Oh, that's not going to go well.

Vince Verhei: Actually, it might have been an upgrade as the Bucs drive into the red zone … but then Aaron Donald gets a stuff by splitting a double-team and not moving an inch when Leonard Fournette—LEONARD FOURNETTE—plows right into him. Pressure forces an incomplete pass on third down and the Bucs kick a field goal to cut the lead to 27-6.

And then the Bucs put ANOTHER kickoff out of bounds.

Aaron Schatz: Cooper Kupp fumbles for the first time since early in 2020, Bucs get the ball back at the Rams' 30. And Tom Brady does what Aaron Rodgers couldn't do last night: he finds his secondary receivers. He knows the Rams will cover Evans and Gronk. On fourth-and-9 that he has to have, he finds Scotty Miller. Tyler Johnson on the next two passes. Then Leonard Fournette runs it in for a yard and now we have it at 27-13 Rams. Uh-oh. This thing is not over.

Vince Verhei: Johnson was slow to get up after the catch that made it first-and-goal. If he's out, I think Evans and Miller are literally the only Tampa Bay wide receivers available—Cyril Grayson is out with a hamstring injury.

With one quarter and 12 seconds to go, the Rams are up to 17 carries for 33 yards. It is hard to kill clock when you can't run at all.

Carl Yedor: If this were any other quarterback on the opposite side, I think most Rams fans would be about as zen as it gets during a playoff game with a two-score lead. The fact that I'm even considering that as a worry for folks down in Los Angeles speaks to the career that Tom Brady has had. At the start of the fourth quarter, the Rams have a second-and-long, and to echo Cris Collinsworth on the broadcast, they need to, for lack of a better term, avoid playing scared. They have the personnel to seal this game on the offensive side; go seize the moment.

Vince Verhei: UPDATE: The Rams will go into the fourth quarter at 18 carries for 33 yards.

Scott Spratt: Lavonte David is making a late defensive player of the year push with the Bucs' run defense DVOA splits with and without him healthy.

Aaron Schatz: A very, very quick three-and-out will give the ball back to Tampa Bay at their own 30 with 14:51 left. I don't believe in momentum, but that Tom Brady mystique has definitely taken over the minds of everyone watching this game.

Vince Verhei: Stafford is now 6-of-9 in the second half, which is good, but for only 58 yards, which is bad. Suddenly he can't get anything going down the field.

Aaron Schatz: Apparently, momentum is only as good as whoever is blocking Von Miller.

Wait, I take that back. Momentum is only as good as whoever is snapping the ball for the Los Angeles Rams.

Bryan Knowles: Touching to see some NFC West solidarity, with the Rams paying tribute to the Cardinals' season by botching a snap.

Vince Verhei: It's not just the lost fumble on the snap, it's the yards. From the Tampa Bay 25 to the L.A. 45.

Aaron Schatz: Tampa Bay essentially gained 30 yards by exchanging fumbles. Amazingly lucky.

J.P. Acosta: This game has gone full tilt, and now we're in MAC-tion area.

Vince Verhei: Nick Scott breaks up a deep pass to Gronk. That dude has been ballin' today.

Carl Yedor: I did not know the defenseless player flag was enforced after the play because it almost never occurs in situations where a turnover on downs is relevant. You never know when you might learn something new.

Bryan Knowles: Interestingly, Weddle's massively unnecessary hit might end up helping the Rams. Gives them a longer field to work with, and the potential to bleed more clock. Still, though, that was a terrible hit by a guy who was on his couch a month ago.

Scott Spratt: Wait, a hit on a defenseless receiver is a dead-ball foul? How does that make sense?

Aaron Schatz: Apparently, it's a dead-ball foul if the ball hits the ground before the hit on the defenseless receiver. I admit, I did not know this either. It was just a fraction of a second. This never comes up because how often do you get an unnecessary roughness for a hit on a defenseless receiver on a fourth down that results in turnover on downs?

Scott Spratt: But consider the name of the infraction: defenseless receiver. That carries a clear implication of live-ball.

Vince Verhei: The play is over when the ball hits the ground. It's either a dead-ball foul or not a foul at all. Think of it like a late hit. The play counts, and they assess the penalty afterwards.

Carl Yedor: My phrasing there was also slightly imprecise because I think they may have announced a different name for the penalty if memory serves. The amount of chaos in this game may or may not be frying my brain a bit.

Vince Verhei: Play-by-play lists it as unnecessary roughness.

Oh, I love that handoff to Van Jefferson on the fly sweep. Haven't used it all game, but caught the Bucs napping and got a first down with it.

But Matt Gay's field goal attempt from 47 yards out is … short? That's odd. Still a two-score game. But still a good drive by L.A. to take nearly six minutes off the clock.

Aaron Schatz: Brady had tons of time to throw, finally, on fourth-and-9, and he couldn't get it to Cameron Brate. Too much pressure on the downs before that, except for a good Fournette screen. Rams are really overwhelming the Bucs' offensive line. But even on the play where they couldn't, Brady is just having an off day.

Bryan Knowles: Even on an off day, however, Brady can still sling it when needs be—a 55-yard touchdown bomb to Mike Evans (who had burned Jalen Ramsey quite badly), and we're at 27-20…

Vince Verhei: Lord almighty what a beautiful throw by Brady. As Collinsworth is pointing out, Scotty Miller is getting so open they had to roll coverage his way and leave Evans one-on-one with Ramsey.

Miller only played 135 snaps in 10 games this year. Maybe he should have played more.

Aaron Schatz: Bruce Arians of course should have gone for two there, but is not the kind of coach who would do that.

Scott Spratt: I'm not sure our model accounts for the fact that Brady would 100% win the coin toss if this game got to overtime.

Bryan Knowles: The Bucs maybe should have gone onside kick, to boot, with no timeouts left. I believe we have the two most conservative coaches left in the playoffs trying to figure out late-game strategy on the fly, and I'm here for it.

Aaron Schatz: Oh my god, Cam Akers fumbled. Ndamukong Suh stripped it. Lavonte David hopped on it. Brady's luck is AMAZING.

Vince Verhei: Four fumbles for L.A. today. All recovered by Tampa Bay.

Bryan Knowles: Oh, I think the Rams called a bad timeout. The Buccaneers moved the ball inside the 10 and thought they had a first down, but the refs ruled that no, it was fourth down instead. The Bucs looked a little discombobulated, but the Rams stopped the clock, and are letting Tampa Bay get prepped for a huge play. Plus, there's a chance that this is actually a first down, or at least closer than the refs spotted it, on review … a review they wouldn't have had time for if the Rams hadn't stopped the clock…

Though I suppose it gives the Rams more time to score…

Scott Spratt: Is this when Stafford throws the pick-six?

Vince Verhei: No, Scott, it is not.

Stafford beats blitzes. He beats himself on zones. Bucs blitzed him and he beat them.

Aaron Schatz: Todd Bowles, live by the blitz and die by the blitz. Buccaneers blitz the slot corner which leaves a safety on Kupp, and that's a bad matchup.

Bryan Knowles: Cooper Kupp shreds coverages on back-to-back plays, getting wide-open to get that drive going. Put the team on his back there.

Vince Verhei: L.A.'s drives after going up 27-3:

  • one play, lost fumble
  • three plays, punt
  • one play, lost fumble
  • nine plays, missed field goal
  • three plays, punt
  • two plays, lost fumble
  • five plays, field goal

Field position evened out a lot in the second half, but still ended up at the 29.0-yard line for Tampa Bay, 38.7 yards for L.A. That's a massive amount of yardage over 15 drives each.

Tom Gower: On field position, through 47 minutes, the Bucs had six points with an average starting field position of their own 17. On their last six drives of the game, over which they scored 21 points, their average starting field position was their own 48. A massive difference, thanks entirely to the Rams' screwups rather than good things by the offense (though they did get the Mike Evans touchdown on the drive they started back at their own 23).

There's so much to say about this game, but I think one of the key things is the final Cooper Kupp play against the blitz. One of the things Aaron mentioned on Thursday's live show is how good Matt Stafford was against the blitz. Todd Bowles is a blitzing defensive coordinator. He blitzed that play. He got a free rusher. Matt Stafford stood in there against the free rusher and found Kupp downfield to set up the game-winning field goal.

Buffalo Bills 36 at Kansas City Chiefs 42 (OT)

Scott Spratt: The Chiefs somewhat surprisingly made running back Darrel Williams inactive. And while Bryan probably hates that for his playoff fantasy team, I'm excited to see what Jerick McKinnon can do with more touches this week with his excellent speed.

Bryan Knowles: Considering Williams got me -1.6 points last week, the goose egg may end up actually being beneficial. But man, Andy Reid's doghouse is a sturdy one, with Williams getting sat down after the fumble last week, and McKinnon just running away with his job.

Clyde Edwards-Who?

Aaron Schatz: I love the Bills calling a short pass to Cole Beasley on third-and-9 near midfield with the idea that they would go for fourth-and-short if he caught it. And he did, and they ran a quarterback sweep to Josh Allen for 10 yards. Great play calling and a nice aggressive fourth-down go.

Bryan Knowles: And they end the drive with another fourth-down go—less aggressive, being at the 1, but still. Love the Bills' entire offensive philosophy.

Tom Gower: Opening drive takeaway: the Buffalo Bills offense looks faster than the Chiefs defense. Getting Isaiah McKenzie to the edge to set up the first-and-goal (and he got a couple more yards than I thought he should) wasn't the first play I thought that, and then the fourth-and-goal score by Devin Singletary comes from him winning the race to the pylon.

Cale Clinton: Might be getting a bit too into the weeds, but I am a big fan of the Bills and Josh Allen going with a more rugby-style pitch on the Singletary touchdown. The toss is a bit more labored than the typical quarterback pitch, but the most important element of it is that the pitch comes as parallel to the line of scrimmage as possible instead of tossing it more backwards on an angle. With this kind of toss, Singletary catches the ball with a full head of steam that allows him more optionality as a runner. If he gets that ball more upfield, catching it more on his heels, Frank Clark could have pursued upfield and swallowed him up. The optionality freezes Clark a bit, giving Singletary just enough time to find the edge and make it to the end zone.

Aaron Schatz: Bills continuously pressure Patrick Mahomes on the next drive and they just can't bring him down. He has a flip pass to McKinnon for a conversion, a 35-yard scramble, and now a 7-yard scramble for another first down.

Bryan Knowles: And another 8-yard scramble for the touchdown. Mahomes' scrambling is only, like, the 12th-best thing he does, and he's still amazing at it. He is made of magic.

And as long as the Bills are doubling Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, and leaving the middle open, well, Mahomes is going to run all day.

Vince Verhei: Two drives, two touchdowns, plenty of fourth-down goes, quarterbacks running all over the place. This game is as fun as advertised so far.

Scott Spratt: Clearly Bills punter Matt Haack had fresh legs pinning the Chiefs after not needing to punt last weekend.

Scott Spratt: With Tyrann Mathieu now officially ruled out in concussion protocol, I'll mention that Mathieu missed 9.5% of his attempted tackles this season per Pro Football Reference. Daniel Sorensen missed 25.0%. And Sorensen also gave up the two biggest deep passes to Josh Allen in Week 5, back when he was playing over Juan Thornhill.

Vince Verhei: For most quarterbacks, this sidearm throw to go *around* a defender like a frisbee would be a highlight of the year. For Patrick Mahomes, it's Sunday.

J.P. Acosta: That's one of the most preposterous throws I have seen Mahomes attempt.

Scott Spratt: Clearly Gregory Rousseau is too tall at 6-foot-6, Vince.

Carl Yedor: Huge drive coming up for the Bills here with just under two minutes in the half. Kansas City takes the ball 86 yards in just under seven minutes to take a 14-7 lead, and with the Chiefs getting the ball to start the second half, it will be important for Buffalo to make something of their final possession here in order to keep Kansas City from creating too much separation. Buffalo's offense is more than explosive enough to keep up, but staring down a large deficit against Mahomes and company limits your ability to be patient with short passes and running the ball when trying to make a comeback.

Vince Verhei: Chiefs, as usual, get super-cute in the red zone. Second-and-goal from the 2, they try an underhand shovel pass, which has worked several times this year, but this time it's incomplete. So it's third-and-goal from the 2, and Mahomes fakes a rollout left, then pivots into a rollout right, directly into the face of a heavy Bills blitz. Fortunately for Kansas City he is still Patrick Mahomes and he calmly hits Byron Pringle for the score.

Bryan Knowles: If the Chiefs were hoping to double-up before halftime, well, they forgot that the other guys are practically uncoverable as well. Josh Allen had some amazing throws to move the Bills down the field, finding Gabriel Davis on a play where the two Chiefs defenders crashed into one another for a score; 75 yards in 1:15, yowza.

Of course, now the Chiefs have 37 seconds of their own…

Aaron Schatz: Allen also had some excellent runs, and he did a great job to get out of bounds to stop the clock. Even though it did leave time for the Chiefs, we didn't know for sure the Bills would score so quick and I think that was very wise of him. Also, that was a seven-man big blitz on the touchdown pass! So much for those numbers showing Allen was subpar against the blitz this season. Sample size of one, pretty good play.

J.P. Acosta: The Bills are having a lot of success running with Josh Allen, specifically when they have the tight end as the only eligible receiver on the short side of the field.

Vince Verhei: Dots on the Davis touchdown. Yes, the two Chiefs defenders take each other out, but I am howling at this "route" which is "just run in a straight line towards the goalposts."

Scott Spratt: Gabriel Davis has averaged 10.0 touchdowns and 10.2 expected touchdowns per 100 targets since the start of 2020 and including the playoffs. That latter total is the highest among wide receivers with 100 or more targets. Mike Evans is second at 8.4.

Vince Verhei: Chiefs miss a field goal to end a weird-as-hell, fast-moving first half. 14-14 sounds fairly mundane, but each team only had four drives. Both teams were moving the ball all over the place, it just took them a long time to get there. Chiefs are 5-for-6 on third downs; Bills are only 3-of-7, but made up for that with the two fourth-down conversions. The quarterbacks have each run for 40-plus yards, and both teams are averaging more yards on running plays (including scrambles) than on dropbacks.

J.P. Acosta: That was a nasty fourth-down playcall, especially with Mahomes killing the Bills with his legs.

Scott Spratt: Massive win for the Bills that the Chiefs scored just three points in their pair of drives on either side of halftime.

Vince Verhei: Chiefs run 13 plays, take nearly eight minutes off the clock, to go 54 yards and kick a field goal. Converted on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 before another third-down conversion was called back for holding and they settled for three.

Bills respond with a three-and-out, including a punt on fourth-and-a-foot from their own 34. No idea how, the way Kansas City has been driving, you don't give Josh Allen a chance to pick up 12 inches.

Tom Gower: Through the end of that Bills possession Vince just noted, Allen has attempted 19 passes for a total of 120 yards. I don't know that he has an attempt more than 15 yards (those marked deep in the play by play) other than the touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis. This seems like (a) a mistake by the Bills, (b) maybe under-ratedly great defense by the Chiefs, or (c) some combination of the two of those.

Vince Verhei: Yup. Kansas City says "thank you very much for that punt" and gets a touchdown in five plays. Mecole Hardman takes the end around 25 yards for the score as the Chiefs' running game continues to out-produce their passing game. Butker misses the PAT so we're at a 23-14 lead.

Bryan Knowles: I'm mildly shocked Hardman squeezed his way through traffic to score on that end around. Great patience—the Bills had things bottled up, but Hardman waited for their momentum to take them slightly past the play, a channel to open up on the backside, and he was off.

Scott Spratt: That was Harrison Butker's 19th missed extra point since he entered the league in 2017 (regular and postseason). For reference, Justin Tucker has missed four since he entered the league in 2012.

Bryan Knowles: There's your deep pass, Tom.

J.P. Acosta: Play-action shot is textbook Bills, and they needed to start going downfield too. A bomb from Josh Allen.

Scott Spratt: The Chiefs allowed 2.4 more yards on play-action passes than traditional passes per Sports Info Solutions charting. That was the fourth-biggest differential this season.

Bryan Knowles: And now it's the Chiefs turn to punt from midfield. I'm fairly sure whenever a punt unit comes out in this one, it's a significant win for the opponents. Every Bills fan I know is relieved that the Chiefs didn't go for that one; the Bills' odds of driving 90 yards isn't that much lower than their odds of driving 50!

Aaron Schatz: SIS ranked Buffalo as an average tackling defense this year so I am a bit surprised by the trouble they're having, not just bringing Mahomes down, but bringing the other Chiefs players down.

Carl Yedor: In most circumstances, the potential risk of injury makes putting your best offensive players back to return punts not worthwhile. In the playoffs, that consideration is a bit less important. After a return that mostly went nowhere was wiped away due to offsetting penalties, forcing a re-kick, Tyreek Hill busts a huge punt return on his second attempt to set the Chiefs up inside the red zone. However, the Chiefs continue their refusal to just be a normal team in the red zone and have to settle for a chip-shot field goal.

Bryan Knowles: Matt Haack making the tackle on Hill to save a touchdown looks like it may be huge, as the Chiefs get too cute on third down. Andy Reid isn't going for fourth-and-4, so they kick a field goal and are only up five, not nine.

Vince Verhei: Certainly not the Chiefs getting super cute in the red zone and costing themselves points. That would never happen. So they get that big punt return and then kick the field goal that turns a one-score lead into a one-score lead.

J.P. Acosta: I REALLY don't like that play call. Don't get too cute when you only got a yard to gain. Keep it simple.

Vince Verhei: I think if the Chiefs ever came out in third-and-1 and lined up I-formation with two tight ends, the defense would call a timeout in panicked confusion.

Aaron Schatz: I know I'm in the minority, and I would have just kept Mahomes in the game to run it instead of Blake Bell, but speed option is usually a great play call with 1 yard to go.

Bryan Knowles: I'm alright with that play if Mahomes is running it, but I'm more alright with it on fourth down, not on third where any loss of yardage is going to lead to Andy Reid kicking it.

I do kind of like the Bills being methodical on this drive. They got the ball with 8:55 left, and they seem determined to move down the field at a snail's pace, by their standards. They're not really designed to drain the clock and score as time runs out, but it's probably the right call against Mahomes and company.

Vince Verhei: Except they have a first down in Kansas City territory with five minutes to go. That is a LOT of time to kill. Chiefs have all their timeouts too.

Aaron Schatz: Brian Daboll does a lot of good stuff but what on earth was going on with a play-action fake on third-and-7? Slowed down the play for the pass rush to get to Allen, and nobody thought the Bills would seriously hand off there.

Vince Verhei: Buffalo's methodical pace backfired. Fourth-and-13 at the two-minute warning and they have to go for this. Two more minutes, they could kick here and hope for a field goal-stop-field goal finish. Not good odds either way, but I'd definitely rather have that second scenario.

Bryan Knowles: Honestly, with three timeouts left, field goal-stop-field goal is still a theoretical possibility. Fourth-and-13 is a long down and distance.

Or you can just find Gabriel Davis massively wide open for a touchdown. You know, either/or.

Aaron Schatz: He made the defender, Mike Hughes, slip on the grass with his move! And Buffalo gets the two-point conversion too. 29-26 Buffalo. But did they leave Mahomes too much time?

Vince Verhei: 1:54 and three timeouts? Yes, they did. Although this nutty-ass scrambling two-pointer by Allen gives them a very good chance of at least getting to overtime.

I would like to point out that the Bills had to convert on fourth-and-4 and fourth-and-13 because they had punted earlier on fourth-and-a-foot.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm on mobile and don't have anything unique or clever to add, other than that because I have mocked Josh Allen as much as anyone on here, I feel compelled to say, on the record, that he has been very fun to watch and half-cheer for (I like both teams so I'm kind of just cheering for fun) and those plays to elude pressure and convert the fourth downs and then pick up the HUGE two-pointer were amazing.

And now, after Hill turns on the jets, we get to see what kind of fun he can create again.

Bryan Knowles: Tyreek Hill catches a Mahomes pass and kicks it into second, third, and fourth gear, racing 64 yards for the go-ahead touchdown! But did they leave Allen too much time?

Vince Verhei: 1:02 and three timeouts? Yes, they did. Although this four-point lead means we probably won't get overtime.

Carl Yedor: I'm glad there are no games Saturday next week because I'm definitely going to need the extra day to recover.

Dave Bernreuther: The games this weekend have certainly made up for last weekend's non-thrillers, that's for sure.

Bryan Knowles: And we get our third lead change in the final two minutes as Allen leads the Bills right back down the field, hitting Davis (who else?) in the end zone for another touchdown. But did they leave Mahomes too much time?

Aaron Schatz: This time, I don't think they did. Thirteen seconds. Davis beat L'Jarius Sneed and that's the first four-receiving touchdown game in NFL playoff history.

Vince Verhei: Is Davis invisible? Is he phasing in and out of the timestream? Why can Kansas City never find him?

For the record, I do not think the Bills scored too quickly. 13 seconds, even with all three timeouts, is probably not enough.

Aaron Schatz: Oh my god. They did leave Mahomes enough time. He got it into field-goal range on two passes. Nineteen and 25 yards. Butker hit a 48-yarder. How on earth did that happen?

Vince Verhei: Clearly, I know nothing.

Dave Bernreuther: I am rooting for fun. Fun is winning.

Bryan Knowles: Let it be noted that the Bills kicked off deep, giving the Chiefs a touchback and running zero seconds off the clock. And let it also be noted 13 seconds is apparently too much time to give Patrick Mahomes.

Every game this weekend had a field goal go through the uprights with 0:00 on the game clock. Three ended the game. And this one is better.

Tom Gower: Speechless. I don't even know how to react to that game. Amazing. Incredible. The Chiefs really found something with those crossers against man coverage. The Bills did what they needed to do to come back. The Bills wouldn't have been able to come back even doing what they did had Butker not missed a couple kicks, to add to one of the themes of the weekend.

Bryan Knowles: The Bills not getting a response drive in overtime is sad, because I could watch this game for the next 20 years, but it's hard to feel too bad for them when they had multiple chances to stop the Chiefs in the final two minutes and couldn't.

Same time next year?

Vince Verhei: I am exhausted. Maybe the best game I have ever seen. So good a tiptoe game-winning touchdown catch in overtime almost feels anticlimactic.

And yes, I think we'll be seeing a lot more Mahomes-Allen duels. And that is wonderful, wonderful news.

Dave Bernreuther: How awful for Josh Allen. If you lead a do-or-die touchdown drive with a minute left in a road playoff game and score to go ahead with :13 left, you deserve to win. To have to sit and watch that happen after that drive … I have seen a lot of unlucky things happen to quarterbacks that did their job as well as it could possibly be done, but that's the worst I have ever seen. It's worse than the worst thing I could have even imagined. Wow.

(But also wow: Patrick Mahomes.)


192 comments, Last at 26 Jan 2022, 12:54pm

1 (Almost) No Comment on Overtime Rules?

I'm persistently astonished by how chill American fans are about the madness of overtime rules.

Both teams scored a TD in every quarter. More drives in the game ended with a TD than with a punt or turnover. There is every reason to think that whichever team did not get the ball would have, if given the chance, been able to score with its own first drive.

But the game is decided on "sudden death" based primarily on whoever wins the coin toss? How is that fair? How is it a fitting ending to the spectacle for the 90% of us who are neutral fans?

Yet no-one seems to bat an eyelid. Insane.

3 I'd believe that more if...

I'd believe that more if the rules hadn't literally been reconsidered and re-written only a few years ago to produce the ridiculous mush we now have.

It seems to get very little mainstream comment, and even on FO - in the Audibles above it's scarcely even mentioned despite having (probably) decided the game.

What's so hard about playing another quarter?

4 I think in the playoffs…

I think in the playoffs playing a full quarter would be fine. Not sure about regular season. No one needs more injuries. But then i wouldn't bother with overtime in the regular season at all.

5 You don't even need another…

You don't even need another quarter, although, sure whatever, if you want.

Just ditch the coin flip. You already had one, at the beginning of the game. Make it so whoever wins that picks on 1st half and overtime 1, or defers to 2nd and overtime 2 (etc.).

Everything changes if the teams already know who goes first in overtime.

6 Agreed....

... you could do that - and it probably makes OT less likely because the team not slated to receive in OT is more likely to gamble for a win (eg going for 2 on the tying TD).

The point is there are so many fairer systems than the weird and totally unnecessary sudden-death approach.

41 Football's difficulty is…

In reply to by LondonMonarch

Football's difficulty is that it's vastly easier to score than it is in soccer or hockey (approximately sudden death, but this changes constantly too), but not nearly so easy to score as in basketball (5 minute extra quarter). Unlike baseball, it is timed.

The other problem is that it's gotten vastly easier to score. This is a combination of kickers getting much better (50 yard FGs are almost gimmes now) and the rules being bent towards the offense so dramatically that winning the coin toss is a huge advantage.

Maybe the answer is a 5 minute OT period. Winning is still a big boost, but that opens strategy to the defense allowing a fast score in order to get the ball back. That may result in some putrid gamification of offenses trying not to score while defenses try to usher them into the end zone, like we've seen in soccer occasionally as teams try to game tiebreakers.

100 Or two short halves

Maybe the answer is a 5 minute OT period. Winning is still a big boost, but that opens strategy to the defense allowing a fast score in order to get the ball back.

Or two 5-minute halves, with no sudden death.  Team that wins the toss can choose or defer, just like at the beginning of the game.


171 Overtime Rules

The simplest approach would be to say both teams offense needs to get the ball. This might give an advantage to the team that goes 2nd because they will know if they need a TD or not.  However, if both teams score a TD .. then the first team still has the advantage of the next score of any kind winning. In this case the second team to score might be better off if they go for two.

Another option I heard is have a kick off between FG kickers (there are various ways this could be done), with the winner of the kick off ... in effect winning the coin toss and getting to receive first or choose which side they want to defend (in the case of a heavy wind game.)

I believe John Harbaugh suggested a Game Theory option where one coach would decide which yard line they would start at and the opposing coach deciding offense or defense. There could also be variations on this basic bidding theme.

54 I always see a group of old…

In reply to by LondonMonarch

I always see a group of old school thinkers who talk about the sanctity of the game and not wanting OT to have different rules than the rest of the game. Skipping over how that’s already not true, this is the reason that we can’t do a system like in NCAA football where it’s all short drives that limit the length of overtime while also allowing equal possessions. Without that, we’re stuck with a system that makes it impractical from a time standpoint to really play it out until there’s a winner. So, they opt for (modified) sudden death to limit the extra play time while being fairly close to “playing it the same”. Hopefully some day we can get something else….

69 this is the reason that we…

this is the reason that we can’t do a system like in NCAA football where it’s all short drives that limit the length of overtime while also allowing equal possessions.

NCAA football games have ended in like, 7-8OT with teams flailing randomly to attempt to score. It doesn't make it any less random or more fair. It just makes it different. Just look at what happens in major league baseball when the game literally can't end. Eventually coaches are like "eff this $#!+" and you get high comedy where outfielders come in to pitch. Same thing. Some people like it. Others don't. But it's still random. When you've got two teams that have played for 60 minutes and the game's tied, deciding the game at all is going to be random.

The problem isn't the overtime format, it's the randomness of the advantage. An NCAA-style overtime still gives certain teams advantages, but it's not random. They know ahead of time.

155 Sure, out of hundreds of…

Sure, out of hundreds of NCAA OT games, a couple have ended in 7-8 OT. But almost all of them end after 3 or fewer. Especially with the “you must go for the 2 point conversion” rule, it is very difficult and rare to see a large number of OT periods. 

Im not bothered by randomness, I’m bothered that the source of randomness for the NFL is a literal coin flip - and that it’s a huge advantage being given randomly. In the NCAA format, the only randomness that isn’t determined by players and coaches is who goes first vs which side of the field you are playing on. That’s a small advantage for one team and a smaller advantage to the other team. That’s pretty great. 

I do understand the thought process around two short halves, but the short duration of that format changes the game significantly. And it also has a solid likelihood of producing a continued tie, which quickly becomes a nightmare when the 2nd OT period means everyone had played 1.5 football games. It also feels like a non-starter for the players union because of the risk of injury in a really long game. I just can’t fathom that type of solution gaining any traction outside of message boards.

Edit: since the NCAA implemented overtime in 1996, there have been 6 games that went to 7+ OT periods versus versus 35 OT games each year. That’s about 0.7% of OT games. The NFL has had 32 playoff overtime games since 1965, or 0.56 per year. Put it together and we would expect a 7+ OT game in the playoffs once every   ~255 years. 

115 It's just a very weak argument....

The argument that it's "impractical from a time standpoint to really play it out until there's a winner" is very thin (especially as regards playoff games - and almost anyone sensible agrees that OT is just unnecessary in the regular season anyway). The present OT rules permit 15 mins of additional play anyway - why is it "impractical" to play that 15 mins instead of arbitrarily cutting it short?

123 Tweak it a bit

Have two 7.5 minute overtime periods, each starting with a kickoff.  Seven and a half minutes is long enough that it's highly likely both teams will get at least one possession in each half (average drive length in 2021 was 2:48), and long enough that if the team receiving the kickoff is able to score and prevent the other team from having a meaningful possession it's an accomplishment that merits reward (less than 5% of scoring drives in 2021 were 7.5 minutes or longer, and about 20% were long enough that the other team would have to be in a two-minute drill).

7 overtime

It was worse before when a FG could win it on the first drive.  That was rewritten after outcry from the Saints beating the Vikings that way in 2010.

The method I would like (which would never happen) is this:   flip the coin, then the winner gets to say a yard like they would take the ball at.   say the 25.   the other team can either let them have that or name a yard line farther back, say the 20.   then the first team can counter further back, the 18 or whatever (whole yard increments only).   this goes on until one team either accepts that offer, or some team says they will take it at the 1.  (the idea came to me from watching an episode of "Name that tune".)

Of course in this game whoever won the toss would have probably gone straight to the 1....


161 As a variation on this idea…

In reply to by andrew

As a variation on this idea...when was the last time a punter got to be the hero in an overtime game? Let's give 'em a chance to do just that.

Instead of starting off overtime with a coin flip, have it "kick off" by sending both punters out to the 30 yard line and trying to kick to the far end, like lagging for break in pool. Whichever ball stops closest to the goal line without going over "wins" the kickoff, and their team gets to choose whether to start on offense or defense at the spot of that ball. If both balls went over the goal line, whoever did so by less is the winner, and they get to choose who starts on offense with a touchback (they'll almost certainly take the ball to start in that case). No bidding, no coin flip to decide the first (or, as a variation, only) bidder, just a foot making contact with a ball, like the sport is supposedly named for.

95 Again, it's been asked and answered

Again, it's been asked and answered...recently.

The 2018 AFCCG featured a game between KC and NE that was at least as bonkers, featured just as many 4th-quarter lead changes, and where it was just as apparent that whoever won the coin toss was going to win the game in OT.

New England won the toss, marched down the field, scored a walkoff TD, and Mahomes never saw the ball in OT.

This was back when Mahomes was the current NFL "it" girl the way Allen is now, and there was a similar outcry for several days afterward about how unfair the OT rules were, and how all the fans wanted Mahomes to get his chance in OT. 

So the Chiefs submitted a proposal to the league to change the OT rules that offseason.

And the owners responded with a decisive, thundering "meh". The proposal died a quiet death, and everyone forgot about it until just last night.

People only care about how unfair the OT rules are when a team they're invested in loses due to those rules. That outrage has a very limited fuse, and is only loud when you're down in it....it's not loud to the league at all.

98 Yes

Don't disagree with that bit at all. I was more countering the initial premise that American sports fans (or the football infrastructure in general) just don't get upset about it.

They do, just not loudly enough for long enough to counter ownership inertia. 

15 So many fans chimed in on the OT rules

So many fans chimed in on the OT rules yesterday that I can not keep count without writing down each person's name so that I do not double count.

This was FO open discussion yesterday while the game was on live.  There are so many discussions on this site in which people disagree.  We finally found a topic that we all agree upon, we hate OT rules.


103 Always surprises me people…

Always surprises me people push this: I still think you'd end up with a first-mover advantage even with a full quarter. I think the real issue is that we've become so accustomed to offenses being so good that we don't consider it "fair" unless both offenses get it.

To me the outrage says more about the NFL being too far biased towards offenses finally, which is interesting.

116 Longer play reduces variance

I think that in a full quarter with no OT, the "last-mover" advantage is enough to outweigh the first-mover advantage.  By the time you get through 15 minutes, the results of the first drive will likely be lost in the noise.  There were six and a half drives in the fourth quarter of yesterday's KC-BUF game; the fact that KC had the ball at the start of the 4th quarter was way less material to the result than the fact that they had it at the end.

124 That's not a great…

That's not a great comparison, though. The 4th quarter is effectively longer than the others because of the combination of timing rules and the accumulation of timeouts. Plus, it's really arbitrary to split up the second half into 3rd/4th quarter, anyway.

Think about it this way. Teams defer to the second half 90+% of the time because they want the ball first in the half that ends the game. And that's with a 30-minute half! With (effectively) a 15-minute half, why wouldn't they want that advantage more?

126 I think

I think teams would still want the ball to start a 15-minute, no sudden death OT period, because "having ball" is seen as better than "not having ball".

But I think that over the long run there would be very little difference in outcome based on who won the OT coin toss, because a 15 minute quarter is long enough and provides enough drive opportunities for both teams to reduce the actual advantage to statistical noise.

And if you want to further reduce effects of the coin toss, play two 7.5 minute OT periods, each starting with a kickoff, so each team gets first possession in one period.

117 Soccer and First Movers

First, "soccer" only uses the penalty shoot-out after it has played a full half-hour period of overtime ("extra time").

Second, in the penalty shootout each team gets the same number of kicks.

I agree that there is still a first-mover advantage even if you play a whole quarter, but it is surely much less than under the current arbitrary rules. And of course as offense gets better the advantage increases.

121  I agree that there is…

I agree that there is still a first-mover advantage even if you play a whole quarter, but it is surely much less than under the current arbitrary rules. And of course as offense gets better the advantage increases.

To be clear, a 15-minute overtime is still arbitrary. There's no 15-minute half in football. The only "non-arbitrary" overtime is really a full additional 4 quarters. So calling certain things "arbitrary" is, well... arbitrary.

And of course as offense gets better the advantage increases.

That's really what I was trying to get at in a lot of these comments. Outrage over the NFL overtime is really due to the fact that offense has finally drifted way out of sync with defense, which is an interesting note. I know people have been talking about this like it's been happening for decades, but to me the real change has been basically since ~2010-ish, especially since field-goal kicking started to plateau.

128 Largely Agree

Of course it is true that any limitation by time period is "arbitrary" in the sense that you could choose 12, 15, 18, 30 mins. But 15 mins is not entirely arbitrary in that there are good reasons for it - it is a recognised chunk of time within the game (one quarter), it is not so long that it messes up schedules, or that players are likely to become exhausted. And - crucially (although this would require some trialling) - it seems like it is likely to be long enough for most (although maybe not all) the "first-mover advantage" to erode.

And you're definitely right that the weirdness of the OT rules becomes even less fair, the more the game is offense-dominated. But unless the latter is going to change overnight, the need to fix the former becomes all the stronger.

162 I dunno - teams regularly…

In reply to by LondonMonarch

I dunno - teams regularly eat up half the third quarter with one drive, so unless you're planning on having 4Q timing rules the whole time (in which case that's a long freaking quarter) - and even then it might not do it - it seems like teams would start playing clock shenanigans.

But unless the latter is going to change overnight, the need to fix the former becomes all the stronger.

I think all I'm really saying is that if you don't fix the offense issue, you're just going to be patching things constantly. And you definitely can screw defenses more with wacko overtime rules, further reducing their importance (and thus makign things worse).

165 I don't think it's that regular

I did a quick back of the envelope (based on this query), and something like 98% of drives in 2021 lasted less than seven and a half minutes (126 out of 5874 lasted 7.5 minutes or more).  (I didn't exclude kneeldowns or control for time remaining or anything like that, but if you limit it to drives that start in the 3rd quarter, 40/1444 last 7.5 minutes or more, so that's still 97% that are less than 7.5 minutes.)  If a team can take a kickoff and run a scoring drive that eats up most or all of a 7.5 minute overtime half, I have no problem with rewarding them by not letting the other team get the ball (especially in a non-sudden-death OT that consists of two 7.5 minute halves, each starting with a kickoff).

186 If a team can take a kickoff…

If a team can take a kickoff and run a scoring drive that eats up most or all of a 7.5 minute overtime half, I have no problem with rewarding them

The problem with this reasoning is that it's exactly how we used to justify OT first possession with a coin flip.

It's only impressive until everyone starts doing it.

163 I don't think it's exactly…

I don't think it's exactly intentional. I think it's a consequence of protecting QBs because there aren't enough of them and avoiding further lawsuits. Not quite the same thing. Kindof interesting to imagine what happens when quarterbacking, as a skill, becomes common.

187 They don’t make rule changes…

They don’t make rule changes in the other direction.

Yeah, they have. The out of bounds rule change helped defenses, pushing the extra point back suppressed scoring, and allowing defensive substitutions also helps defenses.

Any rule change that protects a player is going to help the offense, and those have been the ones that have had by far the most dramatic effect. The illegal contact enforcement didn't really do much outside of a one-year effect, since I don't think it was really a "rule change" anyway.

93 There's nothing wrong with NFL OT rules

1) Other things being equal, the overtime rules don't favor one team over another.

2) Sure, there's an element of luck in the coin toss, but there are elements of luck throughout the game, including the opening coin toss.  You can't excise luck as a factor from athletic contests, especially contests like football with so many moving parts, difficult referee judgments, injuries, etc.  Any rule for determining first possession in overtime is either going to introduce an element of luck or favor one of the two teams (e.g., one team naming a yard-line and the other team choosing whether to possess or defend, or an auction by yard-line to possess first, favors whichever team has the offense more likely to drive down the field for a long touchdown).  The element of luck in the coin flip under the current OT rules is not particularly large in most cases; teams are allowed, after all, to play defense should they choose to do so.

3) Requiring that each team get a possession in overtime, no matter what, favors the team with the second possession of overtime with the advanced knowledge of what they need to accomplish on their first overtime possession. 

4) Longer overtimes are injuries waiting to happen. Avoiding injuries is a very good reason to introduce an element of luck that isn't inherently unfair.

5) Trying too hard to eliminate luck of first possession as a factor in overtime results in monstrosities like the college football overtime rules.

6) You could change current rules so that a touchdown on the opening drive of overtime only ends the game if the scoring team makes a two point conversion, but that's just moving luck from the coin toss to the conversion attempt; may as well have each team line up at their own 45 and see who recovers a "fumble" dropped from 20 feet above midfield to determine first possession of overtime.

7)  In the end, any set of overtime rules you can imagine will impose an element of luck or be "unfair" to one team or the other in some football game at some point. Changing the overtime rules because they made one of the best games of all time slightly less exciting for some fans is just stupid. Get over it.

111 I appreciate you taking the…

I appreciate you taking the time to try and make a case for the current OT rules.  Having read your reasons, though, I would say that if these are the best we can come up with for why the current rules are fine, it just reinforces why almost any other system would be better.

119 Poor Arguments

Taking the points in turn:

1. You can say the same about simply deciding the game with a coin flip, scissors/paper/stone etc

2. You can't eliminate the role of luck, but there are good reasons to try to minimise it - hence why (eg) you change ends after each quarter. The element of luck in the coin flip is huge.

3. That depends on whether there are 3rd and 4th possessions.

4. What is this enormous risk of additional injuries in playing 15 mins in a couple of games a season, that justifies relegating playoff games to coin flips? And the current OT rules allow for 15mins of play anyway so hard to see how that is regarded as unacceptable.

5. Classic straw man. There are obvious solutions (just play an extra quarter!) which reduce the advantage of luck and are in no way monstrous.

6. Why do you want the game to end on the opening drive? It's just mad

7. Is just a repetition of 2 and 3. And if your rules are making "one of the best games of all time less exciting", then that's a very good reson to change them!

179 What is this enormous risk…

In reply to by LondonMonarch

What is this enormous risk of additional injuries in playing 15 mins in a couple of games a season, that justifies relegating playoff games to coin flips? And the current OT rules allow for 15mins of play anyway so hard to see how that is regarded as unacceptable.

Players got injured in the overtime games yesterday, it's not like some ultra-rare occurrence. And they reduced the OT period from 15 minutes to 10 precisely because of the risk of injuries. They'd reduce it further if they could.

8 Question for FO staff

I’m sure plenty of better teams have lost their first playoff game after a bye and therefore failed to make the conference finals, but are the Bills the best team by DVOA to ever win a playoff game and fail to make the conference finals?

172 Thanks!

In reply to by Aaron Brooks G…

Knew someone would come up with an answer :)

9 I'm in the "just play…

I'm in the "just play another quarter" camp, and ties at the end of regulation in the regular season.


That was the most insane thing I've ever witnessed in football, and I watched the Frank Reich 35-3 comeback.

10 All credit to Mahomes and…

All credit to Mahomes and Allen, but good grief, there was some hideous play by dbs in the last few minutes of that game. I know guys are tired, but ick, ugh, and oof!

14 The Bills playing to prevent…

The Bills playing to prevent a Hail Mary while the Chiefs were playing for FG range should keep their coaching staff awake at nights for at least a week.

The same would go for the Chiefs lining up everyone on the LOS while the Bills were throwing for the end zone if they hadn't ended up winning the game.

36 Totally agree regarding the…

Totally agree regarding the Bills. The fact that they had two defenders well beyond field goal range on Kelce's catch was just a total mistake. I mean, OK, they still would've gotten into field goal range, what the heck are you going to do, but it would've been a harder field goal.

That being said, if those guys weren't there, Hill was behind all the other DBs, too. Soo....

50 I agree, but I don't. Hill…

I agree, but I don't.

Hill had torched their DBs for a YAC TD on the earlier drive, and he was *this close* to doing it again through their prevent on that last pass. Had they played tight, KC might have won in regulation.

76 On the Kelce play there were…

On the Kelce play there were literally two deep DBs near the goal line. That was probably unnecessary - one would've certainly been enough.

I mean, they were mostly screwed in that KC had a bunch formation to the right, so obviously they overloaded that side - had the other safety been down deeper he might've been able to stop Kelce earlier (maybe he forces an incompletion, but my God that pass was perfect) and at least allow for a longer field goal. But it's like a 5-6 yard mistake. They were gonna get 10+ yards on that play, no matter what.

139 Romo brought up the point…

Romo brought up the point that Bills could shift coverage numbers more in their favor by only rushing two or three since Mahomes has to get rid of it immediately.

At the very least, I put a body on Kelce and a body on Hill from the line of scrimmage and then play zone on top of that. Kelce was able to just run free to an open spot—it was a shockingly easy pitch and catch.

So weird. It’s as if the Bills D had never considered this scenario before.

189 A body on Kelce at the line…

A body on Kelce at the line's not going to do much, he'll just toss a DB and anyone bigger will just get wasted in coverage.

But I think you're basically right in that you want to close Kelce from top/bottom, not left right. Hill you need to bracket, though, he'll just kill you.

143 Interesting bit on the pass…

Interesting bit on the pass to Kelce that got the Chiefs in range for the tying FG.  Before the play, the Bills took a timeout after seeing what formation the Chiefs were in.  But the Chiefs also saw the defense the Bills were in.  Kelce came to Mahomes and said if they line up that way again, I'm not running the called route, "if they do it again, I’m gonna take it right down the middle between both the guys guarding me." 

Listen to the audio here https://twitter.com/jessenewell/status/1485472007328354308

Mahomes says "Do it Kels, do it, do it Kels." 

It's possible that Buffalo's timeout cost them the game.

11 Vince Verhei: 1:54 and three…

Vince Verhei: 1:54 and three timeouts? Yes, they did. Although this nutty-ass scrambling two-pointer by Allen gives them a very good chance of at least getting to overtime.

Bryan Knowles: Tyreek Hill catches a Mahomes pass and kicks it into second, third, and fourth gear, racing 64 yards for the go-ahead touchdown! But did they leave Allen too much time?

Vince Verhei: 1:02 and three timeouts? Yes, they did. Although this four-point lead means we probably won't get overtime.

Vince Verhei: For the record, I do not think the Bills scored too quickly. 13 seconds, even with all three timeouts, is probably not enough.


A hilarious sequence of emails, mainly because everyone else went through the same thought process

12 1. Does the last few minutes…

1. Does the last few minutes of the Chiefs-Bills game demonstrate that the prevent defense is well and truly dead at being an effective strategy? Both offenses ripped the opposing defenses apart with ease. 

2. After the Bills got the lead with 13 seconds left, why didn't they intentionally not kick a touchback forcing the Chiefs to receive the ball to take time off the clock?

21 What, like literally…

What, like literally allowing them to grab and hold guys to slow them down? Or letting them level guys to medically take them out of games? At some point you have to acknowledge that it's an athletic contest, and if you've got guys who are legitimately faster/stronger/better, they're going to win stuff like this.

Hill's 64-yard TD's a great example. The DB's not in bad position. He's got help deep outside so he goes for inside leverage. Hill's just so damn fast he gains enough separation, and the ball's perfectly placed to catch him in stride. Then the other DBs aren't able to tackle him because he's the fastest WR in the freaking league and their angles are all a little off.

Yes, they all took bad angles, but they were only bad angles for Tyreek Hill.

42 It was a joke, but I  have,…

It was a joke, but I  have, for years, said it would be a better game if the legal contact zone were expanded to 10 yards. Might result in less db exhaustion at the end of some games, too.

73 I kinda doubt that would…

I kinda doubt that would work. Part of the reason why it's only 5 yards is because even though you can contact in 5 yards, it's not like you can level someone when the pass is in the air. That's still pass interference. So expand that region farther and now it's more awkward because it's far more likely that the pass will be in the air at that point.

49 With 13 seconds left?

Rush 2 and drop 9, maybe have a spy on Mahomes. I think the goal, if you're Buffalo, is to make the last play a Hail Mary. Make him sit back there and take his time. Not saying it would have definitely worked, but the two throws he made weren't challenging.

Buffalo played their last play of game defense with too much time left on the clock. 

I would have tried a squib kickoff as well, but I also get the reason for not doing that.

60 A squib kick would just be…

A squib kick would just be downed with no time coming off the clock.  It had to be a pooch or something in the 5-15 yard range that forced a return.

Yes, Hill is faster than anyone, but the Chiefs got two plays off because their players could only run straight down the field.  If Hill wants to jitterbug or run across the field, let him.  The throw to Kelce was uncontested, it was right in stride, but Mahomes has no one in his face (no time for rush to get there because it's out right away), no one jamming Kelce or even in the way of the pass 20 yards downfield.  Make the Chiefs run sideways or diagonally, they risk not getting two plays off.

106 Don't kick a squib.  Kick it…

Don't kick a squib.  Kick it to come down at around the 5.

And WTF did the Bills rush 4 on the play before the FG?  With only :08 at the snap Mahomes had to throw it in about 2 seconds even if there was no rush.

108 Not if it was an end-zone…

Not if it was an end-zone shot. Someone commented elsewhere that they were treating it like a Hail Mary instead of a field goal shot, and that definitely looks true - they had 2 DBs way deep. I'm wondering if they forgot the Chiefs had another timeout.


159 2018 AFCCG, Patriots scored…

2018 AFCCG, Patriots scored a TD to take the lead with 39 seconds left.  Chiefs had one timeout.  Patriots kicked short of the goalline, Chiefs returned it to the 31 and burned 7 seconds.  That seems like a reasonable strategy and time consumption.  It probably would have ended yesterday's game.

Often forgotten is that w/1 timeout and the ball on the 31, Mahomes moved the ball in two plays to the Patriots 21 yardline (using that one timeout and helped by a defensive offside that although declined, stopped the clock).  Chiefs took one shot to score and then kicked the FG to tie with 11 seconds left.  Hindsight is 20-20, but I wish they'd taken another shot to the end zone for the win.  Instead the Patriots won the toss in OT and marched down to score a TD.

167 I think that's the best approach

You're basically making the receiving team decide whether they want to risk burning all the clock (or all but one play's worth) on the chance of a TD return, or calling a fair catch to save the time and having to start at their own 5.  Even a high kick that comes down between the 10 and the 20 would be a better play than kicking it out of the end zone, unless you have no confidence at all in your coverage team.

101 Intentional Defensive Holding at the LOS

Have the DBs tackle and lay on top of every eligible receiver at the LOS, and eventually tackle the QB or make him throw the ball away.  It's 5 yards and an automatic first down, but will run 5-8 seconds off the clock, and 1-10 from the 30 with 5-8 seconds left is objectively worse than 1-10 from the 25 with 13 seconds left.  Do it twice and it's down to a Hail Mary from the Chiefs' own 35.

Obviously this only applies to the last drive.

141 Pretty sure NFL made rules…

Pretty sure NFL made rules to discourage this type of intentionally holding clock-killing scenario. A team actually did this some years ago at the end of the half (I think it involved Sean Payton and/or Chip Kelly) and as I recall the league addressed it.

150 That'd be exciting

13 seconds left, first and goal at KC's 25, with KC losing 36-33.  KC goes trips left, and Buffalo has their dime package in, with four DBs up at the line in press coverage.  At the snap, the DBs all bear-hug the receivers.  Mahomes looks baffled, then as the pass rush starts getting close to him, flips the ball to Edwards-Helaire who runs for 15 yards before being pulled down as the clock ticks down to zero.  The officials huddle, and then the ref switches on his mic and announces, "Holding by multiple members of the defense.  This is a palpably unfair act, and Kansas City is awarded a touchdown.  The game is over."

The football internet promptly melts down in a fashion that makes the outcry about the overtime rules look like a boring Tuesday in the off-season.

168 large amount of latitude

Well, i'm pretty sure the refs have a large amount of latitude in that rule, since it becomes an invoked 'in retribution, you have invoked an Act of Ref'. For me, I'd just say, "yada yada palpably unfair act, reset the game clock to 13 seconds, KC gets the yardage (or if they hadn't, the 5 holding yards), plus 15 yards additional for unsportsmanlike conduct. Do that again or something blatantly like it and they'll get 13 seconds from the 5 yard line and several players on defense will be ejected."

Also, I want to see the DB who gets to bear hug Kelce ;)

170 Large but not infinite

Rule 12.3.4, Palpably Unfair Act

Penalty: For a palpably unfair act: Offender may be disqualified. The Referee, after consulting the officiating crew, enforces any such distance penalty as they consider equitable and irrespective of any other specified code penalty. The Referee may award a score.

The Referee can award any amount of distance or a score - but per the rule, can't put time back on the clock.  So they could award 5 yards for the hold, plus 15 for unsportsmanlike conduct, and give an untimed down, but I don't think they could reset the clock to allow for multiple plays.

They could, of course, give any amount of distance, but awarding yardage (in this situation, where you didn't have a player clearly in position to score that was, like, taken down by someone coming off the bench) more than something like that 20 yards (especially if it was enough to put them into FG range) would come under almost as much criticism as awarding a TD.

Of course, the defense would be more subtle - just "regular" holding across the board, enough to disrupt whatever patterns the receivers were going into and chew up time.  If all you've got is a bunch of guys grabbing onto receivers, it's going to be hard for the ref to call it a palpably unfair act or unsportsmanlike conduct and give more than a 5 yard defensive holding penalty - and you'll gladly swap 5 yards for running off enough time that KC doesn't have time for more than one more snap.



174 Interesting

I didn't realize the wording was just limited to yards and points. Though I suppose given how rare that is used, it'd really be more how the refs remembered the wording.

As you can't end on a defensive penalty, you'd always at least have an untimed down. But I have a feeling if you had 3+ holding on WR/TE penalties on the same play, you'd get some kind of response from the refs above and beyond "gosh that sucks, here's 5 yards, untimed down". Also, it'd be really hard to run 13 seconds in an actual play before the QB threw it somewhere to preserve the clock. 

Plus you have to figure after the subject has come up a couple of times in media/fan sites, the nfl head office / head officiating office probably told the teams the first time one team blatantly pushed the line on the final plays in such an overt type of way, they'd make an example of them to prove a point on doing something blatant in a high profile game. I mean, something has to have convinced Belichek (who is known for poking at loopholes for an advantage... though generally not in a blatantly unfair way to playing football when he's on the competition committee and generally seems to love football) and others from ever trying (hell, that one coach who had his team try to cause a fumble on a kneeldown... Greg Schiano! that jackass would've tried... though I suppose they were never in a position for that to matter ;)  ).

185 To transition a bit from…

In reply to by Moridin

To transition a bit from rules lawyering to more conventional gamesmanship...  What if the defense just plays "very aggressive" press man - nothing as blatantly obvious as grabbing the receivers and throwing them to the ground, but chucking and grabbing at the line of scrimmage and disrupting the receivers with no concern for whether they'll get called for holding or illegal contact?  Moving 40 yards in 12 seconds depends on timing as much as execution - all Buffalo had to do was make three seconds more run off the clock on the first play of the drive to prevent KC from having a second play to get into FG range.

So imagine you've got four defenders basically playing 1975 press man defense.  Nothing as blatant as tackling receivers, just grabbing and not releasing once the receiver gets 5 yards downfield.  Hill eventually manages to get open and catches the ball for a 15-yard gain to the 40, with three flags coming out.  There are multiple fouls by the defense - two for holding and one for illegal contact, which would result in KC getting first and ten at their own 45 with 4 seconds left on the game clock - only enough for one more play.

In a world where officials routinely swallow whistles in the last two minutes of games, can you imagine the referee - even if the rules give him the authority to - adding a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, moving KC into field goal range?

177 Look at 12.3.3. Palpably…

Look at 12.3.3.

Palpably Unfair Act (12.3.4) is basically the super-sized version of that. Combined with 12.3.3, plus the reference to 19.1.3 (Ref can do anything), the refs can create time if they really wanted to. But they can certainly put it back on the clock.

19 While you focus on defensive strategy rj1, I focus on offense

Watching not just Chiefs-Bills, but when a team is in desperation mode in the 2 minute offense, does it not show that when you have an elite QB, that throwing the running game in the toilet and running a hurry up offense is the proper way to play?

Am I the only one that wants to see Josh Allen square off with Patrick Mahomes with no running plays, and hurry up offense the whole game?  How about Brady-Rodgers?


71 That's my point, though…

That's my point, though. Part of the reason why hurry-up offenses work is because offenses can sustain a high pace a little longer than defenses can, because on offense you can "direct the load" so to speak. But they can't do it the entire game.

One thing that we haven't seen teams start doing (at least not a lot) is really trying to game the substitution rules - for instance, in a hurry-up, have players that aren't involved in the play duck out of bounds immediately after the play and other players come in right away so that the defense only has that immediate 10-ish seconds to substitute. But that'd be like, next-level coordination stuff.

89 Yeah, I mean, that's the…

Yeah, I mean, that's the reason for "reasonable time to substitute" - it doesn't actually matter how quickly the offense does it, if the offense substitutes the defense can't be forced to be in panic mode. But I still feel like there'd be an advantage there simply because the offense knows what it's doing and the defense doesn't.

90 OK so don't do it the entire game

they can't do it the entire game.

Fine so change it to most of the game.  How about, "As much as possible."

I am stopping my discussion with you now.  The only point of having a discussion with you is to attempt to have Aaron submit the final product to the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest back and forth written discussion in history.  Seriously, I thought that you and I'm New Around These Parts were going to make it last week but then you stopped at 17 posts. First time in history that I recall you did not have the last word. That is why I offered him the handoff to him yesterday in the "Open Discussion" which he declined, as I assume that he wanted to watch the game.

Reading your nitpicking inane arguments is like football for me, I enjoy it more as a spectator sport than as a participant.

Since I have a life to attend to, I will stop here.  

When I scroll through discussions on my phone, I always know the ones that you are involved with, they are the ones that get so thin that it is hard to read.  You and the readers via phone know what I mean.

So respond, have the last word, and I bid you adieu and have a nice day.

97  Fine so change it to most…

Fine so change it to most of the game.  How about, "As much as possible."

My point is that I don't think they can do it much more than they do. The biggest no-huddle rate in the league is ~1/3rd of the plays (Arizona) and teams average around 10%. So if there really was a strong advantage to no-huddle, you'd see a big advantage with Arizona, and you don't, really. In Arizona's case, while they're really good at no huddle, they were also really bad at a huddle offense. So there's some evidence there that the two are coupled.

On a longer timescale it's two years now that Arizona's vastly above the rest of the league (800+ no huddle snaps - I think that's more than 2x the nearest other team) and unless you think they'd be very bad if they didn't do it, it's not helping.

53 Am I the only one that wants…

Am I the only one that wants to see Josh Allen square off with Patrick Mahomes with no running plays, and hurry up offense the whole game?  How about Brady-Rodgers?

Maybe a young QB.

One of the things that makes big deficits hard to come back from is that defense knows your strategy -- half the game is eliminated. If you never ran, defenses would just be DEs and CBs. I'm not sure I'd want to drop back 80 times against Donald and Miller trying to murder me, and it would make QB injuries so much more of a problem than they are now. You know teams would load up on Suhs who would happily trade the 15 yard penalty for a career-ending injury. Indeed, that would become the ideal strategy.

But even without, QBs and WRs get tired too, and the line appreciates not having to pass block literally every snap.

81 Regarding your points

1.  How many QB injuries do we see in a 2 minute drill.  I remember many a forced timeout in the final two minutes due to injuries this year, I can not remember one for a QB.

2.   Donald and Miller will be less effective against the hurry up offense, they will tire more quickly than a QB and eligible players (WR, TE, and RB) and will not be able to hurt your QB at reduced efficiency.

3.  Strategy has little to do with it being hard to come back.  At some point in any game, it is hard to come back.  In basketball 15 points down in the 4th quarter, baseball 5 runs down in the 6th inning or later, and in hockey 3 goals down at any point. 

We have just seen in the last 11 games played the wild Chiefs-Bills ending, Tampa scoring two TD's in under 5 minutes, only to have the Rams score and win, and the Chargers doing the same to the Raiders, but the Raiders winning in OT.  Clearly it is easier to score in the "hurry up" two minute drill than during the rest of the game.  The strategy change comes with going for more 4th downs, surely the Bills do not go for 4th and 14 earlier in the game, but how about 4th and less than 1, or 4th and 4 for KC?   The EDJ sports models and other analytical models show that coaches do not go for 4th down nearly as often as they should.

My point is with elite QB's only, Tannehill, Hurts and Mac Jones made the playoffs, forget about them throwing constantly. 

86 2 minute drills are…

2 minute drills are sprinting. Sprinting is so fast because fatigue isn't relevant. But you can't really sprint distances beyond 400 meters -- after that it becomes an aerobic competition. 

It's not that teams haven't tried. But even Mike Leach runs the ball occasionally.

105  It's not that teams haven…

It's not that teams haven't tried. But even Mike Leach runs the ball occasionally.

Teams definitely try - the Cardinals ran no-huddle something like 3-5x more than the rest of the league did. Doesn't seem to have much of an effect on overall success.

The next-highest team in terms of non-time constrained no-huddle over the past two years were the Giants, believe it or not, at about 25-30% of their snaps in the first quarter. It, uh, again, did not have a positive effect.

154 I said with elite QB’s and…

I said with elite QB’s and you talk about the Giants

No, the person I responded to talked about teams trying to do more no-huddle, and I mentioned the interesting fact that Joe Judge (of all people) was trying to do it. In your response I only brought up the Cardinals.

No going DIVISION on me and telling me Murray is elite.

Yeah, OK, we'll have to disagree there. Although the third most common no-huddle team (in the first-quarter) is Tampa.

51 1. Does the last few minutes…

1. Does the last few minutes of the Chiefs-Bills game demonstrate that the prevent defense is well and truly dead at being an effective strategy? Both offenses ripped the opposing defenses apart with ease. 

The Bills lost by playing deep coverage. The Bucs lost by blitzing. There is no clear strategy.

Romo had a decent argument that the Bills would have been better off dropping 8 instead of 7 (or 9...) on the first throw, because Mahomes had to throw fast. But then, Hill...

I think this year has shown that it's become absurdly easy for offenses to gain huge chunks of yardage in the end game in the modern NFL.

13 "There's a reason why Brady…

"There's a reason why Brady has won 35 playoff games and Stafford has won 1"

......mostly because a football game has 44 starters, not  including special teams, some others players who get significant snaps, and coaching which plays a larger role than any other sport? Just maybe?

20 If the Rams didn't end up…

If the Rams didn't end up winning, the takes would have really been something.  "See? Stafford can't win big games.  He always chokes in the 4th quarter!"  Yes...he choked by not willing his kicker to avoid dropping a makeable FG short, by not playing defense on that Mike Evans deep ball, by making his center snap the ball when he's not looking, and by not showing enough leadership to make his teammates avoid fumbling.

23 You are correct Joey

But do not forget that a 30 minutes sports segment today would consist of 20 minutes of Brady if it were not for the great Bills - Chiefs classic.

40 He also needed more swagger…

He also needed more swagger to prevent his coach from going run-heavy in the 2nd half when the run game was ineffective and you were moving the ball at will with passing (also known as pulling a "Butch Davis").

17 I also really want a team…

I also really want a team qbed by Stafford or Garrapolo to win the last game, just to confound the RINGZZZ! punditry, but don't think I'll be so fortunate.


22 I want more of these guys too!!


Choose your favorite blah QB from the above list.  Winning the game is difficult, but yet so many blah QB's have tried and lost.  Our most recent participants are Jimmy G., Goff and Foles, there are so many more.  One winner, two losers there.

Jimmy G twice in 3 years?

48 RINGZZZ analysis is…

RINGZZZ analysis is backwards compatible.  If Stafford wins the Super Bowl this year, he was always an elite QB held back by a mismanaged organization.  If he fails to win the Super Bowl, he's a choker who can't win the big one.

62 My oldest daughter is an…

My oldest daughter is an advocate of "Which qb is dreamiest?" football analysis,,and Brady is so old now that he' s  creepy when viewed through that paradigm, long and facial haired Rodgers is thought to be positively ugly (some ageism likely with him,,too) and Allen and Mahomes are just sorta' "eh". Burrows and Jimmy G? They have the intangibles for winning The Big One!

Hey, it's not an obviously worse approach than you're likely to hear from "NFL insiders".....

137 Being a Chiefs fan I've re…

Being a Chiefs fan I've re-watched SB LIV many times.  One of the funniest things at the end of the pre-game show when the "analysts" make their predictions was Bradshaw picking the 49ers and his reason was basically that Jimmy G is a good-looking guy.

25 The fact that I'm even…

The fact that I'm even considering that as a worry for folks down in Los Angeles speaks to the career that Tom Brady has had.

As pointed out in the monster Sunday thread, much of this isn't actually about Brady. It's about his deal with Satan.

Brady didn't make Marlon McCree intercept a 4th-down pass and then fumble it back. Brady didn't make Lee Evans and Dennis Pitta drop gimmes in the end zone and then have Billy Cundiff gank a short FG. Brady didn't make Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan lose their minds. 

I would blame Brady for Goff forgetting how to pass, except he really never knew how. That's not on him.

The only times this hasn't worked out in such a fashion for Brady was when he used a satanic deal prematurely (targeting Wentz instead of Foles), when it was trumped by a superior soul (Dungy in 2007, Flacco in 2013, David Tyree, etc), or when even Satan has his limits (Matt Patricia in 2017).

Forcing four fumbles was really clutch from a QB. Somewhere in Brady's attic there's a really ugly painting of him, with Matt Ryan and Marlon McCree drawn as cherubim in the background.

30  or when even Satan has his…

 or when even Satan has his limits (Matt Patricia in 2017).

Oh, come on, is it just totally impossible to credit offensive linemen anymore? Plus Jason Kelce (well, the entire Kelce family) is just a national freaking treasure, he deserves the credit there.

58 But he's had five 4+ TD…

But he's had five 4+ TD games in his career, and one came in the Super Bowl. That's Matt Patricia.

They won the previous game versus the Vikings 38-7, with Foles throwing 3 TDs and a 141.4 rating! Against the team that literally allowed the fewest yards and 2nd in yards/play in the league!

The Eagles offensive line went into total God Mode that postseason. Any quarterback looks great when they can sit there and have tea and crumpets while waiting for receivers to come open. Foles seriously had 5+ seconds on multiple plays.

That Super Bowl has highlight after highlight of Foles sitting back there, bouncing, patting the ball, and then chucking to a receiver. The Patriots were rushing 5, regularly, and I don't think I saw a play where he had less than 3 seconds, and keep in mind, sacks are dominantly ~2.5 seconds.

Sure, Patricia could've done more to try to be confusing and create pressure. Wouldn't've mattered. They were just winning every block.

45 It’s funny because there was…

It’s funny because there was a time when it appeared Brady might be - if not cursed - at least destined to pay penance for all his early career blessings. Right about the time Jermaine Kearse caught that absurd bobbled deep ball to set the Seahawks up inside the 10 yard line.

From 2005 onwards the Manning boys had his playoff number, he had lost a season to injury, been manhandled by the Ravens a couple times, and even been upset by the frickin’ Jets. All in spite of piloting some of the most wildly productive regular season offenses of all time. Then Malcolm Butler happened, and celestial order was restored. 

26 He blitzed that play. He got…

He blitzed that play. He got a free rusher. Matt Stafford stood in there against the free rusher and found Kupp downfield to set up the game-winning field goal.

Blitzing Stafford is a bit like blitzing young Roethlisberger. He's so used to a collapsing pocket that he simply doesn't care, and has the arm strength to torch you deep.

110 LOL

What people have apparently forgotten is that playing QB for Detroit is basically facing a playoff-grade defense every week, due to the awfulness of your o-line and secondary receivers. Facing a fierce rush and less than stellar pass options is just another Sunday for Stafford.

29 The current overtime rules…

The current overtime rules are a definite improvement on the old (FG wins) rules. On average they work quite well in not hugely skewing the win probability towards whoever wins the toss; the advantage of receiving the ball is at least partially offset by strategy adjustments that can be made if a FG is conceded.

The problem is that the rules are at their most unfair when high powered offenses are going up against gassed defences at the end of a shootout. Which means the most entertaining games (often in the playoffs) are disproportionately the ones decided by a single possession. 

In terms of a solution; playing an entire 10 minute period in the playoffs (followed by sudden death) is obviously fairer and seems tolerable for the players in terms of the additional workload. Oh, and in the regular season get rid of overtime altogether! 


31  In terms of a solution;…

In terms of a solution; playing an entire 10 minute period in the playoffs (followed by sudden death) is obviously fairer

Do you really think this solution would've resulted in anything different yesterday? I would've bet money the game still would've ended with the QB holding the ball when sudden death started winning.

57 Going first would still be…

Going first would still be advantage of course, especially in the context of that game. But the advantage is surely diluted the longer the game is in-for lasting. 

To be honest, the current rules don’t especially offend me. I’m only responding to the complaints. If there is to be a solution I prefer something simple/clean (like a single quarter), rather than something contrived like in college, or the ‘ball-spotting auction’. That’s not a good way of making the game appeal to a wider audience. 

64 But the advantage is surely…

But the advantage is surely diluted the longer the game is in-for lasting. 

I mean, the current rules mostly dilute it anyway.

If there is to be a solution I prefer something simple/clean (like a single quarter), rather than something contrived like in college, or the ‘ball-spotting auction’. That’s not a good way of making the game appeal to a wider audience. 

It's not nuts to get rid of the second coin flip entirely and just base it off of the original one. It's funny, because it seems way worse - like, hey, now that team's got a clear advantage the whole game! But you're actually balancing it out, because you're giving information to the team that's going to lose the second coin flip.

Plus obviously winning the coin flip originally already gives you probably a ~1% advantage anyway, and no one seems to complain. So this would just balance that out.

169 Sort of an extension of the 2nd half

Or just treat is as sort of an extension of the 2nd half. Whoever had the ball last, kick off. KC in this case with a score, but there are other scenarios where the team to have the ball last doesn't actually score (OT because it was already tied before they got the ball [without just getting the ball back with 2 seconds and kneeling out; in that one, just make the other team KO again]). That way KC doesn't have the chance to score, get the ball back and score again. KC scored at the end to force OT, so KC should've had to kick to Buffalo.

191 Re: Moridin's suggestion

Whoever had the ball last, kick off

So for instance, if the game is tied and the team with the ball doesn't think they can get a field goal with the time/timeouts they have, they could run the clock down to almost zero, and then punt out of bounds (or turnover on downs) as the clock expires to guarantee first possession in overtime. This...is intriguing.

The only way this breaks is if a punt at 0:00 lands in bounds. The return team would be incentivized to touch the ball but not recover it, and then neither team would want to pick up the ball! Though I imagine the refs would have discretion to say "return team has it, let's get on with it".

61 I honestly don't have a…

I honestly don't have a problem with a first-possession-TD-wins rule, even though it cost us. The issue is the random element of a coin deciding who gets that shot. I like the silent bid option best: Both coaches pick a # of yards - Home team picks odd, Away picks even. Whichever is further away from the endzone gets the ball, the other team picks the direction. That way both coaches have a chance at possession. The Home team can guarantee it by picking 99, but then they have to drive off their own 1.

67 The issue is the random…

The issue is the random element of a coin deciding who gets that shot.

We already have a random element of a coin deciding a strategic advantage in the game, and no one seems to have a problem with that.

Just balance it out, and let the team that made the receive/kick choice in the first quarter (which is not the same as the team that won the coin flip, mind you) make the receive/kick choice in the fifth (first overtime). 90+% of coaches defer when winning the first coin toss, so it's an obvious advantage. Balance it.

70 We already have a random…

We already have a random element of a coin deciding a strategic advantage in the game, and no one seems to have a problem with that.

How? Each team gets one possession to start a half, and equal time driving in both directions regardless of weather. That seems balanced to me.

83  How? Each team gets one…

How? Each team gets one possession to start a half, and equal time driving in both directions regardless of weather.

Because the team that gets the ball to start the second half knows the game state (what the score is, what the opponent is doing, etc.) closer to their decision point. The first team doesn't.

Statistically it's a tough problem (since it's a minor effect) but coaches choose to defer like 90+% of the time or something. They think it's an advantage, so why are we okay with it?

91 why are we okay with it? …

why are we okay with it?

The advantage of first possession in the second half is:

  • Balanced by losing the first possession in the game (which can force team 2 to chase)
  • Balanced by losing any weather advantage in the fourth
  • Washed out in the subsequent 30 minutes of football

First possession in overtime can end the whole game.

99 If it's so balanced, why do…

If it's so balanced, why do coaches choose to defer 90+% of the time? Having the ball second is clearly something that coaches want. Why are we okay with it being a coin flip? Let's go all XFL style!

First possession in overtime can end the whole game.

For both teams, though! If both offenses are prone to turnovers (or bad!) whoever gets the coin flip might lose first. 

I'm being a bit of a devil's advocate because it's an interesting thought experiment. The reason we hate overtime rules is (in my opinion) because, innately, we're getting used to good offenses and we want to see our team's offense get a chance. But if teams already knew who was going to get the ball first, that changes things. Would Andy Reid give up the chance to get the ball back after halftime if it risked his team not getting it in overtime? I dunno. It's interesting.

The history of coin-flip advantages in the NFL's really interesting, if you haven't looked into it. Before they let teams defer, there was a small but noticeable advantage to getting the ball in the first half (like, 1-2%). After they added the defer option, coaches quickly (on NFL timescales!) moved to always take the second half kickoff. Which is super-weird. But even weirder, the advantage flipped - there's a small (again, 1-2%) advantage to having the second kickoff now.

In fact many people have suggested that it's a herd mentality issue, and the flip is due to good teams making bad decisions - in other words, coaches are making bad decisions all the time (because before, getting the ball first was an advantage) because all the other coaches are, too. But that's a huge stretch to me, because you see big variations in coaching decisions all over the place.

edit: I should point out at least somewhere that I don't really think these two things would balance out as is - overtime coin flip's a much bigger advantage statistically. But I think if you went to a full quarter, for instance, tying it to the initial coin flip would make sense.

109 If it's so balanced, why do…

If it's so balanced, why do coaches choose to defer 90+% of the time? Having the ball second is clearly something that coaches want. Why are we okay with it being a coin flip? Let's go all XFL style!

Coaches do a lot of things because they perceive it gives them an advantage, but they are not always correct. This site is built on that very premise. I haven't see a statistical analysis that white jerseys in warm weather provides a meaningful edge either, but home teams regularly pick out white uniforms for that very reason.


I'm being a bit of a devil's advocate because it's an interesting thought experiment. The reason we hate overtime rules is (in my opinion) because, innately, we're getting used to good offenses and we want to see our team's offense get a chance.

As I said, I personally don't mind a team losing on the first possession, its the random element that I don't like. There are a number of possibilities that remove that, and then I'd be ok with the modified sudden death.

114 Coaches do a lot of things…

Coaches do a lot of things because they perceive it gives them an advantage, but they are not always correct.

Yes, but they don't change unless they're convinced otherwise, and that's exactly what happened. Like I said, if you do quick analyses, there's a ~few percent advantage to the teams that do win the toss. There are reasons why you might think that's an artifact, but it is what it is.

As I said, I personally don't mind a team losing on the first possession, its the random element that I don't like

I don't get this. There's a random element to the initial coin flip. You don't think it matters because it's balanced. There's a random element to the overtime coin flip too, which also would be balanced if teams were equally distributed between "good offense" and "good defense." They're not. (To be clear, kickoffs historically are not good field position for teams. Average starting LOS back in the 1990s-2000s was the 30 - it's now more like the 28).

That's why I don't understand why "spot and choose" is so popular with people. You're talking about a 20-yard or so range that people realistically are going to vary over, and when that happens, it's going to be like... one or two plays from a good offense. It's going to be the same problem.

120 You don't think it matters…

You don't think it matters because it's balanced.

I think the advantage washes out over the course of the second half, yes.


There's a random element to the overtime coin flip too, which also would be balanced if teams were equally distributed between "good offense" and "good defense." They're not. (To be clear, kickoffs historically are not good field position for teams. Average starting LOS back in the 1990s-2000s was the 30 - it's now more like the 28).

That's why I don't understand why "spot and choose" is so popular with people. You're talking about a 20-yard or so range that people realistically are going to vary over, and when that happens, it's going to be like... one or two plays from a good offense. It's going to be the same problem.

What do you think the "problem" is here? To me, the "problem" is not that Allen didn't get a possession, the problem is that a strategic element (bidding) could replace a random element (a coin) and produce a more interesting game. If both coaches are supremely confident in their offense, McDermott could bid 98 [the highest allowed in my version] and Reid bid 99 [ditto], and we'd have the spectacle of Mahomes driving off his own goalline. In that case, the losing coach had their fate in their hands: Either you should have put in a lower bid or you should have stopped a 99 yard drive. No one can (or should) lament a team that can't get a stop in that situation.

125 No one can (or should)…

No one can (or should) lament a team that can't get a stop in that situation.

People used to say the same thing about normal overtime years ago all the time, though. Suppose Mahomes starts on his 1 yard line... and there's a roughing the passer penalty and now they're out to the 15. People are suddenly going to be okay with that because, hey man, the 1 yard line is hard?

That's the part I don't get. Fundamentally, the reason I think people have a problem with overtime now is because scoring touchdowns is easy. I'd bet back in the mid-1970s getting the ball first in overtime was a disadvantage.

In some sense I view the "overtime auction" as a temporary patch. I don't think it fundamentally fixes the issue.