One of the most significant plays of the Cowboys 24-22 victory over the Seattle Seahawks came as time expired in the first half. Sebastian Janikowski attempted a 57-yard field goal with just three seconds left in the second quarter. He was wide-right, but more importantly - he came up limping after injuring his hamstring.
Without Sea-bass available to kick, Seattle had to make adjustments. Long field goals were now out of the question as their All-Pro punter Michael Dickson wasn’t up to the task. In fact, the Seahawks opted to go for two rather than calling upon Dickson to kick the extra point. At first, this worked favorably for Seattle. Late in the third quarter facing a 4th-and-5 from the Cowboys 39-yard line, Seattle went for it. Russell Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for a 22-yard conversion near the sideline that set the Seahawks up inside the red zone. Five plays later, the Seahawks scored and took their first lead of the game. Seattle went for two and converted. When the Seahawks scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to make it a 24-20 game, they again went for two and converted, making it 24-22. The Seahawks could’ve then won the game with a field goal.
But there lies the problem. Not only would kicking a long field goal be a challenge for the punter, but they first had to recover the onside kick. The result? One of the worst onside kicks we can remember seeing in recent history, but hey - we’re not complaining.
While that was a poor attempt that left his team essentially no chance to recover the ball, the same thing can also be said about most of the onside kicks last season. Onside kicks are supposed to be advantageous for the winning team and that’s what they were before 2018. In 2017, there were 60 onside kicks attempts. 13 of them were recovered for a conversion rate of 22%. Last year, there were 53 onside kicks and only four were recovered (7.5%). With the new rule changes, it makes it nearly impossible to recover an onside kick.
The NFL has altered how teams can line up to approach an onside kick to help prevent collisions. Teams can no longer overload one side of the field and players cannot get a running start. This was done to help reduce concussions during kickoffs, but the residual effect it is having on the outcome of games is significant.
By Denver; to amend Rule 6, Section 1, Article 1 to provide an alternative to the onside kick that would allow a team who is trailing in the game an opportunity to maintain possession of the ball after scoring.
Basically, instead of an onside kick, the scoring team would be allowed to possess the ball at their own 35-yard line for a 4th-and-15 play. That’s still not a high percentage play, but it at least gives the trailing team a fighting chance.
If this was the rule last year, Russell Wilson would’ve had a chance to win the game at the end of the fourth quarter. Seattle was already 2/2 on fourth-down conversions. That might have been disastrous for the Cowboys.
What do you think of that proposed rule change? Something has to be done about the current rule as trailing teams have almost no chance to stage a comeback. This new rule by the Broncos seems pretty fair and could bring excitement back to the end of games.