So, I’ve got a question: Following a week when one team lost 24-2, and another ended abruptly under new playoff OT rules, what happens when an NFL playoff game goes into overtime and, under these new rules, an opening possession results in a safety?
We were informed, as OT loomed in Denver on Sunday, that the only thing that could end the playoff game without both teams getting the chance to possess the ball was a touchdown on the opening possession. However, it seems to me that a safety on that first possession should also end the contest. Indeed, it must end it, by my reckoning.
We all got a glimpse of the new rules governing OT during the Broncos’ Wild Card victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
In short, the old system had been pure sudden death: If you won the toss, got the ball, moved into field goal range and made said kick, the game was over. The first score of any kind won the game, in other words.
The new rules were devised to address what was believed to be an unfairness: the idea that your season could be ended, by an opposing field-goal kicker, in overtime, without your team ever having touched the ball. The new system says:
• if you win the toss and score a field goal, the other team gets the ball and has a chance to tie with a field goal — in which case the game proceeds in pure sudden-death fashion from the moment the second field goal is kicked — or win the game with a touchdown.
• if you win the toss and fail to score, the game essentially proceeds in pure sudden-death fashion from the moment you punt or otherwise turn the ball over.
• if you win the toss and score a touchdown the game is over; the other team does not get a chance to respond — as indeed The Steelers did not following the Denver’s 80-yard TD pass on the first play of overtime Sunday.
My question is — and I think the answer is both byzantine and self-evident — what happens if you win the toss and your QB is sacked in the endzone for safety?
It says here that this eventuality must also end the game immediately, under the new rules, as the result of a safety means the scoring team gets the ball back… right?