Cowboys Prove New Overtime Rules Useless


The Dallas Cowboys lose their second overtime game of the season without so much as a single offensive possession.

Remember how Sports Illustrated writer Peter King became such a strong advocate of change several year ago?

No, King wasn’t running for President of the United States, but rather was campaigning for significant rule changes to be made to NFL regulations in overtime. In this case, he probably ended up bringing forth more beneficial changes than any President in my lifetime, but clearly the new system during the extra period still needs work.

To start with, I never had any problem with the old NFL system in overtime. Back then, the first team that scored a point won the game – simple. I still felt that way following Eddie Murray’s 1981 field goal with 12 men on the field to beat the Cowboys in 1981. In fact, I never knew of anybody else that thought there were problems with ‘sudden death’ either.

Then came King, who felt that it wasn’t fair that the team that won the coin toss could simply drive to their opposition’s 35-yard line, kick a field goal and win a football game. Why King felt this way I have no idea, but he did.

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Honestly, I wonder how he feels right now?

The Dallas Cowboys must be in some very limited company – if there even is company – after having lost a second overtime game this season without their offense ever hitting the field.


See, the NFL made the current changes back in 2010 before expanding the overtime amendments to the regular season, as opposed to just the postseason, in 2012. The newish rules state that a field goal cannot win the game on the opening possession – that’s about all that’s changed.

The problem left unaddressed is exactly what happened to the Cowboys on Week 4 against the Saints in New Orleans and then again against the Philadelphia Eagles in Arlington on Sunday night. The Cowboys entered the overtime period with just as much right – this was King’s argument for change to begin with – as its opponent to take a shot to win the game.

Instead, the Cowboys lost the opening coin toss both times and the defense promptly gave up big touchdown plays to win the game.

Is this really what the intended purpose of the new overtime rules was? Was it really just an inherent disliking of field goals, or was there some actual desire for fairness here?

Again, I never felt there was anything wrong with a team kicking a field goal to win on the first possession of overtime. In fact, a team can still win with a field goal, mind you, but only after each team has had the ball once – completely counterproductive and stupid.

But never fear, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is aware of the problem and he’s surely got the answer, according to Michael David Smith of NBS Sports:

"I think our overtime rule is really working well. I think it’s got the right balance. It keeps the sudden death nature of the game but . . . you have the opportunity to win the game and not give the other team the ball if you score a touchdown. . . . I think that maintaining the sudden death nature of the game is very important."

If keeping the sudden death potential was so important, why make a change at all?

Goodell can’t see the forest through the trees, so there’s no real insight coming from that direction. After all, this guy likely had nothing whatsoever to do with the current overtime format, aside from perhaps calling on a vote from a collection of billionaires. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was presumably among them.

Again, where was all the public outcry for change, at least beyond King himself?

The same place all the clamoring for longer extra points was – nowhere.

If you’re going to make a change for a stated purpose, then go all the way with it. Don’t take a few steps in that direction and then call it a day. To do so generally means that nothing significant has happened.

If an alcoholic decides to stop drinking, yet they still hit the local the bar for a drink once or twice per month, is this individual likely to conquer the habit?

Of course not.

So, I hereby call for a return to the simple philosophy of first point in overtime wins, period. The same issues exist today as they did before, even including the fact that a special teams score (kickoff return for touchdown) can still win the game with just a single play.

If not that, then guarantee each team an offensive possession, which was probably the best sales pitch for overtime change to begin with.

Next: Dallas Stars: The Beat Goes On

On the off chance that you might think that this is simply a Dallas Cowboys issue, remember that a bad rule effects everybody and the only real question is when.