Instead of the Kansas City Chiefs providing more fodder to fuel the argument of changing the NFL postseason overtime rules in this year’s AFC Championship Game, the Bengals flipped the script and proved there’s no reason to make a change.
It’s clear the Cincinnati Bengals have put to bed the narrative that the NFL postseason overtime rules need to change. As fate would have it, the Chiefs happened to be involved again in a potential overtime possession debacle, except this time Patrick Mahomes threw an interception leading to a Bengals walk-off field goal, just like the rule is intended to work.
The discussion over the rules, however, started three years ago in the 2019 AFC championship game. After a 38 point fourth quarter the Chiefs and Patriots went into overtime tied at 31. There was a feeling that whoever had the ball last would win, neither defense was getting a stop. Patriots won the toss, drove directly down the field, and scored on a Rex Burkhead run.
The Chiefs sought to get the rules changed following this loss so both teams could possess the ball at least once. The proposed rule change read as follows:
"to amend Rule 16 to (1) allow both teams the opportunity to possess the ball at least one time in overtime, even if the first team to possess the ball in overtime scores a touchdown; (2) eliminate overtime for preseason; and (3) eliminate overtime coin toss so that winner of initial coin toss to begin game may choose whether to kick or receive, or which goal to defend."
Apparently, there wasn’t even a vote on this proposed change because there was a lack of support for the change.
Now, fast-forward to the 2022 AFC Divisional Round game Bills-Chiefs. It was a 28 point fourth quarter. 25 of them came in the final two minutes. The game is now being touted as one of the greatest games ever played.
So great it could only end in overtime. The Chiefs win the toss this time. However, the Bills have the number one ranked defense in the league. But, people still assume whoever wins the coin toss will win the game. Sure enough, that is what happened. The Chiefs win on a walk-off touchdown as Josh Allen never left the bench.
Then comes the AFC Championship game. The Bengals come back from being 18 points down to force overtime. Actually, the Chiefs forced overtime because the Bengals took the lead late in the 4th quarter. Either way, the game went into overtime.
When the Chiefs won the toss the crowds’ joy in KC was palpable through the TV. Everyone once again assumed the Chiefs would go right down the field and score a touchdown to win the game, keeping Burrow off the field.
Instead, on a 3rd and 10, Mahomes heaved a deep pass intended for Tyreek Hill. But instead of finding his intended target, a perfectly timed tip by Jesse Bates sent the ball right into the hands of Bengals safety, Vonn Bell.
The Bengals drove the ball into field goal territory and set up a chip shot for Evan McPherson.
The Bengals proved the rule is just fine as it is. If you want to win, make the stop, play defense. The Bills had no excuse, they had the number one ranked defense in the NFL. People kept saying they were too gassed. Welp, the Bengals weren’t. So now what is the Bills’ excuse?
The Chiefs and Bills traded big blows at the end of the game. The Bengals’ defense had to withstand Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense for the final six minutes and four seconds. And then play more defense in overtime, and they still made the stop.
The rule may not be perfect, and no matter what people will always have something to quibble with no matter the rule. But the Bengals did prove that the rule does not need to change. Even if you do think it needs to be changed it won’t be after that AFC Championship game.
What do you think? Do you think the rule needs to be changed?