Marcell Aleman #3 of the St. Louis Battlehawks scores on a touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Brahamas at the Alamodome
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The XFL’s Onside Kick Alternative Could be Game-Changing

As a football fan, you love a good game — a game that goes back and forth and/or down to the wire, a game that starts with the saying "whoever ends up with the ball last will win." Well, one of the biggest plays in these close games, whether in a back-and-forth affair or a comeback effort, is the onside kick.

But the XFL may have figured out a way to improve upon the onside kick, by removing it from the game all together.

The XFL Opts for 4th-and-15 Over Onside Kick

 A close up of an XFL leather game football on natural turf grass during the Seattle Sea Dragons versus D.C. Defenders XFL football game

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The onside kick is not easy to recover, which is why fans on both the winning and losing sides react with something along the lines of two opposite emotions: ecstasy or rage. This is because out of the 946 regular onside kicks from 2000 to 2019, only 110 have been successful, an 11.6% success rate.

But what if there was an alternative to give your team another chance at getting the ball back to possibly win the game? In addition to several other rule changes that differ from the NFL's, the XFL might have just the answer to that problem. While onside kicks will be allowed at any point in the game, there is another option: If a team finds itself losing at any point in the fourth quarter, it can elect to forgo an onside kick and instead go for a fourth-and-15 from its own 25-yard line.

Will it work? Well, yes it will. We saw a couple of fourth-and-15s take place on the opening weekend of the 2023 XFL season — and, more importantly, we saw the St. Louis Battlehawks actually do it successfully. After scoring and making a 3-point conversion, the Battlehawks were down 15-12 with just under a minute and a half left in the game. They decided to put the game in the hands of quarterback A.J. McCarron to convert the fourth-and-15 attempt. McCarron would find wide receiver Austin Proehl for the conversion and keep the game alive. This proved vital, as McCarron would find Proehl for a game-winning, 14-yard touchdown with just 16 seconds left.

It is still too early to tell if this new alternative is more successful than the onside kick, but it definitely makes the game more interesting and brings more excitement to the contest. The NFL itself has voted "no" to this new rule in the past; but maybe seeing it in action in the XFL, the NFL just might change its mind down the road.

MORE: A.J. McCarron's XFL Tenure Could Relaunch His NFL Career