MIAMI (Reuters) - New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma said on Thursday the NFL’s new rules on overtime are a slight to his team, which advanced to the championship game earlier this year under the old rule.
The Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings 31-28 in sudden-death overtime of the NFC Championship game after winning the coin toss and nailing a 40-yard field goal on their first drive.
“If you read between the lines, we feel like they’re saying well, if Minnesota would have had a possession who knows what would have happened,” said Vilma, who lives in Miami and was playing in a friendly tennis match with world number two Caroline Wozniacki on Thursday at the Sony Ericsson Open.
“We don’t appreciate that. I don’t appreciate it at all.”
Starting next season, the team with the first possession in overtime would have to score a touchdown to end the game. But if they only manage a field goal then the opposing team will get a chance to end the game by scoring a touchdown.
If both teams score field goals on their first possession, or fail to score, then classic sudden-death rules would come into effect, with the next team to score winning the game.
The rule was passed 28-4 by league owners Tuesday.
Vilma, a six-year NFL veteran who has played the last two seasons in New Orleans, said the Saints beat the Vikings fairly and that the NFL’s rule changes were designed to avoid the situation from occurring again.
“Whoever scores wins,” he said. “It’s up to Minnesota to stop us. They didn’t stop us on fourth downs and that’s their problem. I just feel like they’re slighting us, but it is what it is.”
After beating the Packers, New Orleans went on to defeat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 to win their first Super Bowl.
Reporting by Solange Reyner, editing by Frank Pingue