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NFL owners vote to modify overtime rules for postseason, giving both teams a possession

Related: Overtime modification heads list of proposed NFL rule changes

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The NFL’s much-discussed overtime rules will be modified, at least for the playoffs. Starting with the 2022 tournament, games going to extra time will see both teams get an opportunity to possess the ball at least once.

An appropriate rule change was proposed by the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month, and has garnered enough support at the league meeting in Palm Beach, FL. For a rule to be changed at least 24 of the 32 teams need to vote in favor of it, something that has happened, according to multiple reports.

The rule in question — Rule 16, Article 3 — will look as follows under the proposed changes made by the Colts and Eagles:

(a) Subject to Article 4(a), both teams must have the opportunity to possess the ball at least once during the extra period, unless the team kicking off to start the overtime period scores a safety on the receiving team’s initial possession, in which case the team that kicked off is the winner.

(b) After each team has had an opportunity to possess the ball, if one team has more points than its opponent, then it is the winner.

(c) If the team that possesses the ball first does not score on its initial possession, or if the score is tied after each team has had its opportunity to possess the ball, the team next scoring by any method shall be the winner.

(1) If the second team loses possession by an interception or fumble, the down will be permitted to run to its conclusion, and all rules of the game will be enforced as customary, including awarding points scored by either team during the down. If the second team, after regaining possession, has more points than the first team after the down and subsequent try, it is the winner. Only fouls that require the down to be replayed, fouls that negate a score, or palpably unfair acts will be enforced.

The overtime rules were last changed in 2011: between 2011 and 2021, a touchdown on the first possession of overtime ended the game. When no TD was scored either on offense or by the opposing defense, a field goal was enough to win the contest from the second possession on.

These rules have leveled the overtime playing field a bit after a field goal was all that was needed to end the game previously.

Following the 2011 rule change, the winner of the coin toss came away victorious on just 52.4 percent of overtime games. However, that number increased to 83.3 percent in the playoffs: 10 of 12 overtime postseason games since 2011 were won by the team correctly predicting whether the coin would show heads or tails.

The now-passed rule change proposal by the Colts and Eagles addresses this issue, allowing both playoff teams a chance to score in overtime. If the game is still tied after one possession on each side, the game will move to sudden death: next score on either side wins.

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  • 61%
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