I haven’t written about football in this space (well, not this space, but you know what I mean) in years. I stopped watching football regularly more than ten years ago, and now I only watch if I happen to be someplace where it’s already on someone else’s teevee. But one would have to live under a rock to not know that a recent renaissance has taken place for the Buffalo Bills, after a long seventeen-year-long stretch of never making the playoffs and often being downright bad.
I’m not going to do a deep dive of any sort into yesterday’s playoff loss, a 42-36 defeat by the Kansas City Chiefs. You can find that sort of thing elsewhere–especially analyses of the self-inflicted wounds that were the special teams and defensive playcalling in the last 13 seconds of regulation time, when the Bills–owning a three point lead and just that long away from advancing–instead gave up a field goal to force overtime, and then a touchdown in OT to lose. What a sequence.
(I did not watch the game, by the way. I follow games online at times, seeing social media reactions and checking the box score in-progress. Why not? Sports got along just fine with most fans not seeing the games on teevee for decades.)
I will note, though, that the NFL’s overtime rules continue to be absolutely insane. It is inexplicable that they continue with overtime that makes it possible for a team to win while the losing team never so much as touches the ball. This defies all reasoning, and no other sport does it that way. Basketball and hockey have extra periods, and baseball just tacks on additional innings as needed, so the home team always gets one last at bat. Not so the NFL, which has decided that if the first team with the ball scores a touchdown, the game ends. But the game does not end if the first team only scores a field goal. This ridiculous kludge of a rule was what the NFL did after another notorious playoff game, one involving the San Diego Chargers and the Indianapolis Colts, if I recall correctly. The Chargers got the ball and won immediately on a field goal, while Peyton Manning, then one of the game’s biggest stars, watched in sullen silence before heading for the locker room.
The same thing happened last night: Buffalo’s Josh Allen, one of the games brightest stars these days, never got a chance. You can’t tell me that the NFL wants it this way. There’s a reason they scheduled Bills-Chiefs as the late game on Sunday of Divisional Playoff Weekend: because that’s the game most people would want to see. And yet, it ended in a lame coronation because of the league’s stupid overtime rule.
The way to fix this is, for me, fairly obvious: add ten minute periods as needed, and just keep playing until time expires and there’s a winner. I’d keep play moving by awarding no timeouts to either team, and I would eliminate the coin toss by simply positing that the visiting team gets the ball first. (Oh, and I’d also eliminate the opening coin toss as well. In baseball, the home team always bats in the bottom of the inning, and I’d do likewise in football: the visiting team receives the opening kickoff in the 1st, and the home team receives in the 3rd.)
A game’s stars need to play. The NFL’s current system allows for a possibility of the game’s stars being spectators to their own defeats. This is just absurd.
Also, on Josh Allen: my God, can you imagine having a quarterback put up the postseason that guy did, and still falling short? It’s astonishing, and it reminds me of a scene from Star Trek:
What’s happening here is that the Enterprise is participating in some simulated war games, pitting Picard against Commander Riker. But as they get underway, Data has just lost a strategy game like chess to some guy, leading him to conclude that he must be malfunctioning. Picard finally has to go tell him that no, he’s not malfunctioning, he just got beat.
That’s about all I have to say about last night’s game. It’s time for the offseason. The draft is in three months. Training camp’s in six. Better luck next year, Bills.