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Sunday, February 28, 2010
Pats, overtime and a possible change

By Mike Reiss

INDIANPOLIS –- One of the interesting news nuggets to come out of the NFL combine is that the league is considering a change to overtime rules in the playoffs. The proposal being considered would give a team that allows a field goal on the opening possession of overtime one chance to score. (Under the proposal, if a team scored a touchdown to start OT, the game would be over.) With this in mind, there were two pieces of information I hoped to dig up:

1) The Patriots’ overtime record and how those results were affected by the coin toss (the rules would be changed because of the weight the coin toss has in overtime).

2) The opinion of Bill Belichick or another NFL head coach on the possible change.

In the Belichick era, the Patriots are 7-3 in overtime games in the regular season. They are 3-0 when they win the toss and 4-3 when they lose it.

As for the opinion of Belichick, he did not come to the media center during this year’s combine. So Oakland’s Tom Cable stepped up to do the honors, and he’s in favor of changing the current rules.

"For me, having spent quite a while in college football, I think that’s kind of a real dynamic way to play into overtime, with both teams getting a fair shot at it," Cable said of the current college rules, which are different than what the NFL is considering. "You’re put in a very stress[ful] environment, in terms of a short field and all those things, and you have to play off each other and answer whatever the other team did.

“I think that brings more strategy into this whole thing. So where they go with [the NFL proposal] and how they get there, it will be talked about and decided. I’m comfortable with it. I think there needs to be something.”

For what it’s worth, my own feeling is that I don’t like the idea of playing under one set of rules in the regular season and then changing them in the playoffs. If the change is made, my feeling is that all-or-nothing is a better approach.