The big preseason change this year is the NFL's new three-game preseason schedule, which will affect every team and every player, including the Steelers and Cowboys, who are playing in this year's Hall of Fame Game to kick off the preseason and so will play four summer games each — but not five, which they would've played in the age of four-preseason-game schedules from 1978-2019.
But there's one more August rules-and-bylaws change that's worth talking about and that's preseason overtime — which doesn't exist anymore after NFL clubs in April adopted this year's new rules.
Yet while the three-game preseason schedule will affect every team, the no-OT rule won't overtly affect many, since the last preseason overtime games were played eight years ago. (Jets 24, Giants 21 and Chiefs 26, Steelers 20, both played Saturday night, Aug. 24, 2013.)
Most head coaches have tried to avoid preseason overtime situations in the last decade at least. And I suspect most coaches in those situations now will still choose the live-or-die two-point try rather than a tie. Nothing like a game-deciding deuce to get a team's blood pumping and its hive mind focused on such black-and-white situations once they arise in the regular season.
We're a little ahead of schedule, but with lots of important topics to be discussed come training camp and the return to preseason football after last year's mass COVID cancellation, here are some reminiscences about all the times the Jets worked summer overtime (all six, by the way, coming on the road):
Aug. 10, 1974 — Chargers 20, Jets 14, OT, @ San Diego Stadium
This is where it all began, sort of, as the NFL in the offseason introduced one sudden-death OT to all tied preseason and regular-season games. Before that only two preseason games and four postseason games had been decided by sudden death in league history; everything else ended tied. In this one, rookie QB Jesse Freitas' 19-yard TD pass to Glen Bonner won it for the Chargers after John "J.J." Jones had thrown a pair of TD passes for the visiting Green & White.
Aug. 18, 1983 — Jets 20, Bengals 17, OT, @ Riverfront Stadium
The Jets tied it at 17 with 6:16 left on Pat Ryan's 8-yard scoring pass to rookie WR Mike Harmon and Pat Leahy's extra point. Then after LB Mark Jerue's interception at the Cincy 22, Leahy won it 2:15 into OT with a 31-yard FG.
Aug. 24, 1985 — Giants 34, Jets 31, OT, @ Giants Stadium
Pat Ryan again came up big late as his 10-yard TD toss to TE Mickey Shuler put the Jets up 31-24. But Jeff Rutledge's 11-yarder to WR Lionel Manuel and Eric Schubert's extra point with six seconds left in regulation retied it and Schubert's 30-yard FG 5:26 into the extra period won it for the Giants.
Sept. 1, 1989 — Jets 15, Chiefs 13, @ Arrowhead Stadium
One of the few NFL overtime games decided by a safety, this game was won by the Jets when DE Dennis Byrd sacked Chiefs rookie QB Mike Elkins in the end zone 3:50 into OT.
Aug. 22, 1997 — Jets 15, Buccaneers 9, @ Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando
Third-year WR Wayne Chrebet starred with 10 catches for 140 yards, a 21-yard TD pass from Glenn Foley in the third quarter, and a 48-yarder on third-and-18 to the TB-17 to set up rookie Leon Johnson's 7-yard TD run 4:37 into overtime.
Aug. 24, 2013 — Jets 24, Giants 21, @ Giants Stadium
Matt Simms' 22-yard strike to Ryan Spadola lifted the Jets to a 21-18 lead with 2:02 to play, then Josh Brown's 40-yard FG tied it for the Giants with 37 seconds left. Billy Cundiff, signed a month earlier, won it for the Jets with a 32-yard FG 6:56 into OT.
We'll work overtime by ending this wrapup of preseason OT with a game that could've gone longer but didn't.
Rex Ryan, then the Jets first-year head coach, no doubt would've liked to take it to overtime in Preseason Week 2, on MNF, back in Baltimore against his old team, the Ravens. But with 22 seconds left in regulation, after QB Erik Ainge scored from a yard out to cut the Birds' lead to 24-23, Rex opted for two. Ainge's pass for Marcus Henry was tipped away by Lardarius Webb, and the Jets lost by a point in regulation.