Written By Jacob Camenker
The Chiefs beat the Bills in overtime on Sunday night 42-36 after mounting a comeback victory with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Kansas City got the ball first in overtime and never let Josh Allen see the field, driving 75 yards for the game-winning touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce.
The end of the game has caused some debate about the NFL's overtime rules, which award a sudden-death win if the first team to receive the ball scores a touchdown. While the Chiefs won't complain about Sunday's result, it wasn't long ago that they ended up on the wrong side of the NFL's overtime rules. That was during the AFC Championship Game in 2019, when they couldn't survive a late comeback from Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Kansas City led by four with 2:03 left in the contest, but the teams traded late scores and headed to overtime tied at 31. The Patriots won the coin toss, got the ball first and went down the field to score the game-winning touchdown. Mahomes never touched the ball.
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That didn't sit well with the Chiefs. In fact, it spurred them to try to change the NFL's overtime rules. Kansas City submitted a proposal at the 2019 NFL owners' meetings that would have granted both teams the opportunity to possess the ball during overtime.
Below is the full rule proposal, via the NFL:
By Kansas City; to amend Rule 16 to (1) allow both teams the opportunity to possess the ball at least one time in overtime, even if the first team to possess the ball in overtime scores a touchdown; (2) eliminate overtime for preseason; and (3) eliminate overtime coin toss so that winner of initial coin toss to begin game may choose whether to kick or receive, or which goal to defend.
That proposal garnered little support, and the NFL owners didn't even vote on it. A rule change needs to be approved by 24 of the league's 32 owners, and it was clear that threshold would not be crossed.
Ironically, the NFL's overtime rules worked in the Chiefs' favor this time around. Still, NFL fans expressed a desire to change the rules, as they wanted to see Allen get a chance to answer Mahomes, but Allen didn't complain about it during his postgame news conference.
"The rules are what they are and I can’t complain," Allen told reporters. "If it was the other way around we'd be celebrating. We didn’t make enough plays tonight."
That differs slightly from what Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Felger and Mazz" about a week after the Chiefs' loss to the Patriots. Kelce explained that he wanted a chance for a "rebuttal" in that game, so he supported changing the overtime rules.
"I'm definitely in favor of that," Kelce said when asked if both sides should get the ball in overtime. "Especially being in a situation like that. I would probably be a little bit more — I don't wanna say careless but I would have been like, 'Yeah, I mean, they could change if they want, but it doesn't really affect me.' Being in that situation, really having no control, no rebuttal I would say, or no like retaliation playing against an amazing offense like that, it kinda sucked."
Kelce made sure to clarify that "the rule is the rule" and that the overtime debate is "a cool discussion to have" above all else. He just expressed that giving both teams the ball in overtime was "a little bit more fair" than the sudden-death touchdown rule.
However, Kelce, at the time, also acknowledged that because the Patriots were viewed as the villains in their 2019 meeting, he assumed that fewer viewers would have had a problem if the tables were turned and the Chiefs had won the coin toss and scored.
"I think if it was the other way around, if Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs go down, they win the toss, they score a touchdown, we're not talking, 'Brady should have got a chance. He should have got this and that,'" Kelce said. "It's kind of funny how everyone in America wanted to see Patrick Mahomes be a legend in that moment, I think it's definitely going to lead to some questions throughout the NFL and whether or not they should change playoff overtime."
It will be interesting to see if Kelce and the Chiefs' stance changes now that they have benefitted from the NFL's playoff rules or if they will continue to support a change to the sudden-death touchdown rule moving forward.