The Denver Broncos were hot. Momentum was on their side. They had just executed an 80-yard touchdown drive in just over 30 seconds, and they followed that up by throwing for a two-point conversion to tie the game. Peyton Manning and the Broncos were enjoying a 17-3 fourth quarter run as Denver and the Seattle Seahawks headed to overtime.
And Manning and the Broncos wouldn't touch the football again.
This lack of Manning in overtime has stirred up an NFL's ages-old overtime debate.
"The winner of a classic football game should never be determined by pure, dumb luck," writes The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla. "Let's simplify the rules: If the teams have fought into an overtime, haven't both teams earned the right to touch the football at least once?"
It's an idea a few Broncos players mentioned after the game, including Peyton Manning.
"It puts a premium on the coin toss," Manning said. "I called tails at the beginning of the game, and went with it again in overtime. It was heads, and it proved to be a significant call. That’s the way it is, but you would like to not leave it to that."
"I don't like the rule," NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders said on-air Sunday. "I think they should at least, both teams, be able to touch the ball.... You gonna penalize me just because I called tails?"
Ostensibly, though, the NFL overtime rules are created for two reasons: to determine the winner of a tied football game, and to do it quickly. Guaranteeing possession for both teams would hinder the latter objective while introducing the likelihood of four-down strategies for the second team holding the football, a likely shift in the fairness of the overtime period. Thus, not everyone agrees a change should be made.
"The rules are the rules," head coach John Fox said. "I think that the tuck rule needs to be looked at, but the overtime rule is fine."
Whether the change is considered moving forward, it won't make any difference for the 2-1 Broncos.
Said Manning: "All we did was tie it, and it proved to be a little too late."