How Super Bowl LI Proved NFL Overtime Rules Must Be Changed

Photo Credit: Madison

This year is the 51st year of the Super Bowl era of football, and I can say this past one was the most historic Super Bowl I have ever witnessed. Several records were shattered in this game, including the most Super Bowl wins by a quarterback (Tom Brady), the largest comeback of all time (New England Patriots, 25-point deficit), and the first ever Super Bowl to go into overtime. This Super Bowl changed the arguments from “Brady or Montana” to “Brady, and no one else can say otherwise.” And for good reason, because no one else in history has ever orchestrated a football offense to the explosive degree that Brady did last Sunday night. No one else who has ever lived has the ability to pull off a comeback that large and escalate to that level in the way that he did. This was all capped off by the touchdown scored by running back James White, who dramatically broke a tackle and dove into the end zone, breaking the plane by the length of the football to win the game. It was one of the best finishes in Super Bowl history, and many could not imagine a better way to cap of the 2016-17 season and Super Bowl LI. Well, almost everyone…

Like I’ve stated before, this Super Bowl was one of the most exciting games ever played, and I loved the ending. However, the overtime rules kept it from being the best it could have possibly been. The reason why is simple. Matt Ryan was crowned MVP the night before the big game. He played magnificently throughout the game with the help of players like wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman. It is not far-fetched at all to say he could’ve easily scored a touchdown had the coin flip gone their way. Before you get thinking too hard, back up just a bit. There is no problem with the coin flip. It gives each team an equal shot to get the ball. My point comes when I say we didn’t even get to see the MVP have a chance to win the game in overtime.

NFL overtime needs to be changed so each offense gets at least one shot to win. Matt Ryan never got a chance to win the game in overtime. It was all up to his defense, who ultimately were no match for the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. If, for example, we played this overtime with college rules, the Patriots would still score a touchdown and likely make the extra point to bring it to a 35-28 game.  Then we give Matt Ryan the ball 40 yards away from the end zone, just since it’s the NFL so the distance should be longer than college, from the end zone. What are the odds he marches his team down and ties the game? I think they are pretty good. Then, the Falcons are still in the game and we might have a different Super Bowl LI champion.

Besides that, imagine how much more intense the game would have been. Every 3rd down would leave everyone on the edge of their seat. Imagine if the Falcons were left with a 4th and goal from the 5 or 6-yard line down by a score of 35-28. Imagine the storylines if Ryan came out and threw an interception to, I don’t know, Malcolm Butler (yes, I just went there) to lose the game. Imagine if the Falcons score to make it 35-34 Patriots, only for kicker Matt Bryant to be iced and lose the game. There are so many different ways it could’ve ended, and that’s just the first overtime. What if the Falcons tie up the game, then throw a pick-six to lose the game the next possession? What if Julio Jones tip-toes into the end zone for the game-tying touchdown only to fumble the ball the next possession and open up the door for Brady and the crew to win? The possibilities are endless.

The end to the Super Bowl was extremely amazing, but it didn’t reach the all-time memorable greatness it potentially could have. Had the chance happened in overtime for the Falcons, who knows what the discussion would be right now? Unfortunately for Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and the explosive offense in Atlanta, fair is a place where pigs get judged: it doesn’t exist.

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