- The NFL’s overtime rules impacted another classic football game.
- The New England Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-31, in the AFC Championship after scoring on the first drive of overtime.
- Patrick Mahomes, the likely MVP and most exciting young player in the league, was left on the sidelines without a chance to try and tie the game.
- This also happened in the 2016 Super Bowl, when then-MVP Matt Ryan lost to the Patriots in overtime without touching the ball.
The NFL’s overtime rules struck again.
The New England Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-31, in overtime in the AFC Championship in an exciting, back-and-forth affair that still left a little something to be desired.
Because the league’s overtime rules prevented the most exciting scenario: Patrick Mahomes, the likely league MVP, and brightest young star, from taking the field with the Super Bowl on the line.
Instead, as per league rules, the Patriots scored a touchdown on the opening drive, ending the game before Mahomes, who helped orchestrate a 17-point comeback in the second half, ever got a chance to touch the ball.
Sound familiar? In the 2016 Super Bowl, known for the Patriots’ classic 28-3 comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, the Patriots won the game on the opening drive of overtime. Matt Ryan, the league’s MVP that year, was left standing on the sideline, without a chance to try to tie up the game.
Lest anyone think this is an anti-Patriots sentiment, it is not. Imagining a scenario where Mahomes or Ryan had scored on opening drives, denying Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all-time, the chance to tie the game is equally as unsavory.
Not all overtime games have this feeling. The Los Angeles Rams beat the New Orleans Saints in overtime in the NFC Championship game on Sunday, but in that instance, Drew Brees threw an interception on the opening drive, and the Rams got into field-goal position and won the game. Both teams got a try, and one succeeded.
It’s unclear why the rules are set up this way. For player safety? That hasn’t always been the league’s No. 1 priority, and it would be a strange time for them to start.
Overall game length? It’s hard to imagine a scenario where a tied football game going even longer (and on these stages) would be bad for the league.
The 2016 Super Bowl and the 2018 AFC Championship games turned out just fine – nobody soon forgets their excitement. But the overtime rules prevented both games from being their very best.