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Mason's Mailbag: A better way for overtime?

Let's start with overtime. 

Two of New England's last five postseason wins involved the Patriots winning the coin toss and driving to a touchdown, ensuring that the opposing team's MVP-caliber quarterback (Atlanta's Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI, Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes last week) had no impact on breaking the deadlock after regulation.

As Frank Costanza once said, "I realized there had to be another way!" So, not long after watching overtime in a hotel lobby, I tweeted out my playoff overtime proposal:

— One guaranteed possession for each team (unless the team starting on defense gets a safety);

— After first possessions, sudden death until 15-minute period ends;

— If still tied, college-football-style OT until there's a winner. 

Some replied, "What about when the defense scores a touchdown?" That's simple; when the defense intercepts a pass or recovers a fumble, effectively, that is when that team's possession begins.

The responses came fast and furious. Here are some of the better ones, with my sober, week-later comments:


Here's a terrible idea from a Brit: a field-goal shoot out.

Teams alternate in sudden death. First 20-yard field goal. Then 30. 40. 45 and 50. Like penalties in hockey or association football/soccer. Imagine being a kicker ...

I imagine the kickers would be ecstatic. Their pay scale and the premium on those who deliver under pressure would skyrocket.



– One set of three two-point tries for each team;

– One more for each team as long as they are tied.

=> You have your winner with only six (or eight, or ten) additional reps, involving both offenses and defenses, and you only neutralize kickers.

This is the equivalent of having penalties in soccer without playing 30 minutes of extra time to get there. For the record, my idea for playing 15 minutes before going to the college-football tiebreaker is based on the soccer notion that a contrived method of tie-breaking such as penalty kicks is a last resort. I'm also not in favor of completely eliminating kickers from the mix. They should matter, too – although perhaps not to the extreme suggested in the previous tweet.


So you'd reward the defense for getting one play. But won't reward an offense for taking a ball 75 yards (on the road) and TD? OK

By getting a first-possession safety, the defense would have made a stop and scored points. A possession by the opposing offense would be superfluous, as it would simply kneel four times if it was forced to have the ball after the defense's safety allowed that team to take a two-point lead.


Why not just play an extra full quarter? That way, in all likelihood, each team gets multiple possessions and all three phases of the game still matter. In basketball they don't call it game in OT when one team hits a 3-pointer. Let them play it out using fourth-quarter clock rules.

You make some salient points, but I have to differ with you on two counts:

1) You suggest that playoff football should have a fixed overtime period that is 25 percent of the regulation game length. This would be the equivalent of playing a 12-minute overtime in the NBA. Neither would fly.

2) While I agree that one touchdown should not decide the game if the other team has not had the opportunity to possess the football, the notion that one score in football compares to a single 3-pointer in basketball is off-base. It's not even an apples-to-oranges comparison; it's more like apples to celery. The average NFL game (including postseason) this year featured 9.1 scores via touchdowns, field goals or safeties. An average NBA game through Saturday had 81.6 2- or 3-point baskets per game.

Let's get to some other thoughts:

Andrew, we have a lot of good receivers that are going to have a tough time getting on the field this year, do you think they could switch Tim Patrick to the tight end spot? He's built a lot like Shannon Sharpe.

-- Martin Crump

The Broncos are not swimming in proven wide-receiver depth right now, especially in the wake of trading Demaryius Thomas and losing Emmanuel Sanders to a torn Achilles tendon. Obviously, that could change with free agency and the draft, and they do have the chance to bring back Jordan Taylor, but to paraphrase Kevin Costner's general-manager character in "Draft Day," we live in a different world now at wide receiver than we did three months ago.

Further, Patrick is listed at 210 pounds. To be a viable tight end, he would need to add 20 to 25 pounds, which could limit his flexibility and speed. When the Broncos drafted Sharpe as a wide receiver, he already weighed 225 pounds; by the mid-1990s, he played tight end at 230.

 Most tight ends today are at between 245 and 260 pounds, so even with 25 extra pounds, Patrick would still be among the lightest at his position. While they could consider having him shift positions, I don't see it as something with a high likelihood of success.

Especially now that the Broncos hired Rich Scangarello as offensive coordinator, the Broncos should try to trade for Nick Mullens as QB-in-training. What are your thoughts?

-- Tom Thompson

Trades always take at least two sides to agree, so put yourself in the 49ers' shoes for a moment. If you had a projected starting quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo) recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a young, low-salary backup passer as an insurance policy who had proven he could effectively run the offense, would you trade him?

I wouldn't.

Why not bring back Chad Kelly for another look? He seemed to show something when given a chance and we're all desperate for a developmental prospect. Why not give him a low-risk, last-chance contract?

Love the show and all your work.

-- Loren Kearns

Mainly because it's not a matter of giving Kelly a second chance; realistically, the Broncos' decision to draft him was his third chance, and the off-field issues that plagued him in college continued to be problematic, as evidenced by the incident that led to his release during the 2018 season. He's already had more opportunities than most will ever see.

For any NFL team to even consider him, he would have to prove that he had changed, recovered, healed -- whatever term you want to use. I don't think that three months is enough to show that. Furthermore, given his ledger of off-field issues going back to Clemson and Mississippi, I'm not sure football is the best venue for him to get his life on the right path, which is the top priority.

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