Patriots Weren’t Crazy, Statistics Defend Choice to Kick in Overtime

December 29, 2015   ·     ·   Jump to comments

Hindsight can be a bully. 
Back in 2002, Detroit Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg famously opted to kick off to start overtime in a game against the Chicago Bears, leading almost directly to a game-winning Chicago field goal. 
And although New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick did the same thing on Sunday, and although that led directly to a game-winning New York Jets touchdown, Mornhinweg's decision was bad, while Belichick's was sound. 
That's because ever since the NFL adopted its modified sudden-death overtime format in 2012, teams haven't had any edge whatsoever when receiving the kickoff to start overtime. 
Prior to Sunday (i.e. when Belichick made his decision), there had been 67 regular-season overtime games played under the current format. Exactly 32 were won by the receiving team, 32 were won by the kicking team and three ended in ties. 
But interestingly, the 2012 season significantly favored teams that go...

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