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NFL Votes for New Playoff Overtime Rules

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According to a new report from NBC Sports, the NFL has voted for a change in playoff overtime rules. The new rules, starting after this upcoming season (so for the 2011 season) state:

If a team wins the coin toss and then kicks a field goal, the other team gets the ball. If the game becomes tied again after that next series, play will continue under the current sudden-death rules.

Should the team winning the toss immediately score a touchdown, then the game is over.

This is a great day for games that go into overtime and, hopefully, it signifies a change that will happen to the regular season overtime setup as well. The proposal was voted through by a tally of 28-4, with only Minnesota, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Baltimore voting against. Minnesota's dissent appears odd because they are the most recent reason this proposal was looked at. This past post-season, they were eliminated in the NFC Championship game without touching the ball in overtime because of a Saints' field goal.

A change in the rule has become more and more necessary as teams have become more proficient on field goals and kick returns. The team that has received the ball first has won 59.8% of the time (a 60%-40% split that is big enough to take notice) since the kickoff was placed on the 30 yard line.

The main reason that some teams opposed this proposal was inconsistency between the regular season and post-season. However, this issue may be addressed very soon.

The new rule applies only for postseason games. But [Atlanta Falcons president and co-chairman of the competition committee Rich] McKay said even that could change, and several owners expressed interest in further discussions at their May meetings in Dallas.

This is a small victory for fairness during the most crucial part of the season.

Hopefully, this fairness will spread to the regular season.