Is Time Really Over?


One member each from the Bills and the Chiefs, meeting with the referees to determine the outcome of the overtime coin toss, which the Chiefs would go on to win. Photo by the Buffalo News

Written By Tommy Beason

OVER. TIME. In recent years within the NFL, controversy abounds regarding the rules that determine overtime. The current rules include a coin toss to open up the overtime. The winner of this coin toss gets to choose whether they want to kick off or receiver, but with how the rules work, an NFL team would be deemed insane if they did not elect to receive. NFL overtime games last for ten minutes of clock time (during the regular season), with a chance for the game to end in a tie. In the playoffs, the game will go on until a winner prevails. The way the rules stand, if the team who receives the ball first scores a touchdown, they win the game and the opposing team does not get a chance to put their offense on the field. If a field goal is scored or no points, the defending team gets to flip the ball to their offense. The big controversy here is that a game could be extremely competitive all throughout and end with one team essentially losing the game because they lost the coin toss. Many fans across the US were extremely frustrated during games where teams with high-powered and exciting offenses did not even get to step onto the field during overtime.

A great example of these heated fans all across the country came on January 23, 2022. The Buffalo Bills were playing the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs. The winner of that game would advance to the AFC championship, with a chance to grant a Super Bowl berth. The game went back and forth the entire time, and with the time dwindling down, many argued this would be one for the ages. Miraculously, the game went into overtime, tied at 36 points. The two teams led by quarterbacks that were arguably two of the best in the league. Patrick Mahomes on the Chiefs and Josh Allen on the Bills, both amazing young players to watch who will undoubtedly run the league for many years. 

The game took place in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. As the temperature dropped by the minute, the captains met with the referees in the middle of the field to decide the coin toss, with many fans knowing that the winner of this toss would win the game. In the playoffs before this game, there had been ten games that went into overtime. An incredible stat reveals that out of these ten games, nine of the ten winners had won the coin toss. 90% of playoff overtimes ending with the winning team on the ‘right’ end of the coin toss. The winner of this coin toss:  the Kansas City Chiefs. Receiving the ball in front of their home fans with one of the greatest and most explosive offenses ever, the Bills needed a miracle to stop the team from scoring a touchdown. Unfortunately for Buffalo fans, also nicknamed Bills Mafia, this miracle could not be fulfilled. The Chiefs quickly drove down the field and scored a touchdown, winning the playoff game and sending them to the AFC championship.

Josh Allen, The Buffalo Bills quarterbacks, walking off the field, visually frustrated after his team’s playoff loss to the Chiefs. Photo by Jamie Germano of the USA Today Network

People all around went crazy that the Bills did not get a chance to have their offense step onto the field and keep one of the greatest games in recent history going. Fans begged for a rule change and for the entertainment of the game to be maximized. Frustration flooded the Twitter world especially, with wild numbers of tweets slandering the overtime rules and many arguments ensuing in comment sections. One member of the Bills Mafia, Luke Russert who works with NBC and has a huge following on Twitter. Following the end of the game, Russert posted a tweet which said “That was the greatest #NFL playoff game ever played. It will lead to a rule change. This hurts but nobody will ever forget what Josh Allen and the #Bills today. A performance that was a modern day Ali vs Frazier.” Another Bills fan tweeted about the game, former Bills wide receiver and hall of famer Andre Reed kept it short and sweet and said, “Coin toss. Gutted. #BillsMafia.” Those are just two out of the many reactions to the controversial event that took place on that cold night in Kansas City.

The prayers of many fans across the country were partially answered on March 29, 2022. The NFL owners approved of an overtime rule change, but only for playoff games. As of now for those overtime games, both teams will receive a possession, regardless of whether a touchdown is scored or not. This is a major change for the league because most of the controversy that surrounded this rule in the first place came during the playoffs when the games were the most important. Not only is this a major step for the entertainment and fairness of those shootout playoff games but also a major step in showing that the people’s voices are heard. “We always listen to the fans,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “that’s an important thing.”

Maybe time isn’t really over. Every year, some NFL playoff games go into overtime so there is a very likely chance that this rule will be seen during this upcoming season. How will the community react? How will the players react? Tune into the 2022-2023 NFL season’s playoff games and you might find out!