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Timing of potential playoff rule change might irk Chiefs fans

Three years after the same scenario cost the Chiefs their season, there seems to be real momentum for playoff overtime change.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Given the way the Kansas City Chiefs’ season ended — a 27-24 AFC championship game overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals — it is OK to admit that 13 seconds and The Grim Reaper have lost a bit of their buzz in Kansas and Missouri.

Where they haven’t is in Buffalo, New York, as Bills fans still think about what could have been — that is, if the Bills’ defense had been able to kill those 13 Divisional-Round seconds to keep Kansas City off the board. As the story goes, the Chiefs won the overtime toss after tying the game at 36. Eight offensive plays and a touchdown later, the Bills — never having touched the ball in overtime — headed home.

As to be expected, many NFL fans threw their hands in the air, wondering why the league’s rules don’t dictate both teams touching the football in overtime — touchdown or not. As the rules stand right now, the trailing team only gets a crack to tie the game in the case of a field goal. Sudden death begins if both teams score three. Any touchdown ends the game.

This past week, it led to action. The Indianapolis Colts have submitted a change proposal — according to NFL Network and NFL.com’s Judy Battista.

A possible change will be discussed by the NFL’s Competition Committee during four days of the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. For such a change to pass, 24 of the league’s 32 teams will need to agree to it.

I noted that I believe a change finally happens — while offering a slight poke at the Chiefs’ AFC West-rival Los Angeles Chargers, who overthought their way out of the playoffs tied to their ultra-aggressive offensive strategy.

This momentum for a change in overtime rules will probably irk Chiefs fans — at least a little. As most will remember, it was three playoff tournaments ago when the New England Patriots beat the Chiefs in one possession after winning their overtime toss. Tom Brady waltzed down the field in 13 plays and Rex Burkhead’s 2-yard scoring run ended the game.

Had the rules been different, perhaps the Chiefs would have gone to three straight Super Bowls. Maybe they beat the Los Angeles Rams that year — and the Patrick Mahomes Era would have already produced two titles instead of just one. Too sweet an alternate universe to ignore, the Chiefs proposed a change after that postseason — yet it never went to a vote.

That does not seem to be the case this offseason, with multiple teams pushing for change for at least the postseason — according to The Washington Post — with added consideration for a change of rules in the regular season.


Even though it broke the Chiefs’ way this time around, head coach Andy Reid sounded like he would still support such a change this offseason.

“I’m glad we didn’t change them as of [in the playoff win],” joked Reid, at first, following the Divisional round win over Buffalo. “I had a chance to talk to (Bills head coach) Sean [McDermott] afterwards, and that’s I’m sure something they’re going to look at again, too — and I wouldn’t be opposed to it. That’s a hard thing. It was great for us last night, but is it great for the game — which is the most important thing that we should all be looking out for? To make things equal, it probably needs to be able to hit both offenses and both defenses.”

If you live and breathe Chiefs football, this all seems unfair.

“The last time it helped a team, it was Brady — so of course, the rules didn’t change,” one could reasonably say.

But the reality is that it actually happened to one team in between the two Chiefs’ results (with the New Orleans Saints being upset by the Minnesota Vikings in a Wild Card game) and it’s happened a total of seven times since the rules changed in 2010.


Trust me. A storyline about the league deciding now to change the rules because Kansas City benefitted over Buffalo would be way more interesting. But my thought is that the reason it gets pushed this time is that during the primetime finale of one of the greatest football weekends ever, fans, media (and owners!) never wanted what has since been called the No. 1 game of 2021 to end — or, at least end without both teams getting an overtime shot.

With Mahomes and Josh Allen going blow-for-blow to the tune of four lead changes after the two-minute warning, I’d believe even the most passionate Chiefs fan can admit it did feel a bit unjust when he did not get an opportunity.

Just think back to three years earlier. You remember that feeling.

So change will be discussed. And as Reid suggested, the league will be better if everybody touches the football — at least when seasons are on the line.

Regardless of the recent Chiefs history, I’d wholeheartedly agree.