Photograph: Ed Zurga/AP

Football played by human beings is not like a Madden game, where the “progressive fatigue” factor can be switched off. The players we like to think of as giant Energizer Bunnies get tired. Case in point: the Buffalo Bills defense on Sunday.

The Kansas City Chiefs, the Bills’ opponents in an exhilarating AFC divisional round playoff game, ran 16 plays in their final three possessions. The Chiefs covered 194 yards and scored two touchdowns, plus a field goal that they needed to send the game into overtime. They faced third down on only two of those 16 plays, converting both.

After the Chiefs scored a touchdown on the first possession of overtime to win, 42-36, the grumbling began: the Bills should have been given a chance to match that touchdown. But that is not how the NFL rules for overtime work. Should they be changed? Maybe. Maybe not.

“I love the concept of sudden death,” Rick Gosselin, who covered the NFL for decades for the Dallas Morning News, tells the Guardian. “In hockey, after one team scores a goal in overtime, does the other team get the chance to match it?”

Gosselin adds: “There are three elements of football: offense, defense and special teams. Build a defense that can force a punt in overtime. Giving both teams a possession favors the offenses. If you want to go all in on offense, keep winning those coin tosses. If you want to win a championship, build a defense that can be as effective as your offense for 60 minutes and beyond.”

Related: Chiefs v Bills: did we just witness the greatest two minutes in NFL history?

Suppose Buffalo had answered with a touchdown, which, considering this game, was quite possible. Then what? Then the next score wins? Declare a tie and schedule a replay? A penalty shootout? As much fun as this game was, these guys can’t play on forever.

A day after the game, Kansas City coach Andy Reid said of both teams getting at least one possession in overtime: “I wouldn’t be opposed to it….



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