NFL Owners Agree to Change OT Rules for Postseason
NFL owners agreed to change the league's overtime rules for the playoffs in their meeting in Palm Beach, Florida on Tuesday.
The new rules will allow both teams to have a possession in overtime instead of just one, providing more of an equal opportunity for the team who doesn't receive the ball first. However, if the score is still tied after each team had one possession, the game will enter sudden death where the next score will win the game.
The final vote to approve the modifications to playoff overtime ended 29-3, with the only three teams opposed to changing the rules being the Bengals, Dolphins, and Vikings.
The decision to modify the rules came from a public outcry after the divisional round playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills, where the final two minutes of regulation featured the lead changing three times and the teams scoring a combined 25 points. In a thriller where both QBs put on masterful performances against the opposing teams' defenses, many fans and players in the NFL didn't take it too well that it was ultimately decided by a coin flip, as Kansas City won the toss then drove downfield for a game winning touchdown in just eight plays without Bills QB Josh Allen even getting to touch the ball in overtime.
The Chiefs and Bills playoff game wasn't the only time in the playoffs where the team who won the coin toss won the game. Since 2010, 10 of the 12 overtime playoff games, including this past season's divisional round game, were won by the team that won the coin toss, with seven of those 10 teams winning it on the first possession.
However, one of the two playoff games where the team who won the coin toss didn't win the game also happened last season where the Bengals, one of the three teams who voted against the new rules, lost the coin toss in the AFC Championship game against the Chiefs, but intercepted the ball on the opening possession and drove downfield to kick the game winning field goal.
This modification to the overtime rules will definitely force coaches to make much tougher decisions during the extra period. For example, the team who gets possession first and scores a touchdown might consider going for a two-point conversion instead of a PAT so the other team won't be in a position to end the game if they score a touchdown on the ensuing drive. On the other hand, if the team who gets possession first scores a touchdown then a PAT, the team who gets possession second will have to decide if they should take the risk and go for two to end the game, knowing that if they fail they automatically lose, or if they should just kick the PAT and trust their defense to prevent the other team from scoring any points on their next possession.
Before the meeting in Palm Beach, the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles proposed that both teams get a possession, though they wanted it for the regular season and playoff games. The Tennessee Titans also made a proposition that both teams would get possession of the ball unless the team that won the opening possession scored a touchdown and got the two-point conversion, though they withdrew this proposal.
While the NFL overtime rules received a change for the postseason, the regular season overtime rules will remain the same as there wasn't enough momentum to change both the regular season and postseason rules.
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