NFL Owners Vote to Change Playoff OT Rules

Both sides now guaranteed to get the ball in overtime
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 29, 2022 8:58 PM CDT
NFL Owners Vote to Change Playoff OT Rules
Troy Vincent, left, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, and Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons and chairman of the NFL competition committee, take questions from journalists after announcing changes to the overtime rules, Tuesday, March 29, 2022.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

It took a few years, and for many fans that probably was too long. Still, the NFL has heard the cries of "unfair" and has adjusted its overtime rules. Only for the postseason, though. The league is changing the sometimes controversial overtime rules to guarantee each side gets the ball in the playoffs, the AP reports. Concerned that the coin toss to begin the extra period has too much impact on postseason game results, team owners voted Tuesday to permanently approve a proposal presented by the Colts and Eagles. Beginning this season, if the team possessing the ball first in overtime scores a touchdown on that series, the opponent still gets a possession.

In recent seasons, that touchdown would have ended the game. That second possession of overtime would extend beyond the initial 15-minute period if needed. Should that team tie the game, it then would become sudden death. Outcries began back in the Feb. 2017 Super Bowl when Tom Brady completed an incredible comeback from a 28-3 deficit to tie the game. The Patriots won the coin toss, marched to a touchdown, and beat the Falcons. In the 2018 season, New England won the AFC title on the first series of OT without Kansas City getting the ball.

When the same thing happened in Kansas City during this January's divisional game between the Bills and the Chiefs, won by KC, a groundswell became an uproar. "We always listen to fans," Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "What brought this decision was the database and the facts. When you see that, this is an issue in the postseason." Rich McKay, the Falcons president and chairman of the competition committee, admitted that Kansas City's victory over Buffalo was a factor in the balloting by owners. He said approval was well beyond the required 24 votes, but would not reveal the exact numbers.

(Read more NFL stories.)

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