NFL owners approve modified overtime rule ensuring possession for both teams in playoff games

NFL.com

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The NFL has heard your cries and adjusted accordingly — in the postseason.

The league’s owners approved a change to overtime rules on Tuesday that will ensure both teams will receive a possession in overtime, the NFL announced. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport later added that the vote in favor of the rule change was 29-3.

This rule change will only apply to the postseason, where the advantage has statistically been more skewed toward the team winning the overtime coin toss (they’re 10-2 in such contests since the previous OT format began in 2010) than in the regular season.

The playoffs are also the setting from which the most passionate talk-show and water-cooler debates stem. This year, the discourse emerged from hibernation following the end to a thrilling (and exhausting) AFC Divisional Round showdown between Buffalo and Kansas City in which both offenses lit up the scoreboard in the final quarter and neither defense could get a stop.

Unfortunately for Buffalo, the Bills had to play defense first. We know how it went from there.

This time around, the Bills and star quarterback Josh Allen would have received a possession following the Chiefs’ touchdown. How the two teams approached it strategically might have differed from the moment Kansas City scored, too:

Interestingly, a separate overtime rule change proposal included a game-ending scenario akin to an arcade game superpower (bringing down the house inNBA Ballers, anyone?). In this rejected proposal, a touchdown scored and successful two-point conversion from the team that first possessed the ball could have immediately ended the game.

This is not that proposal, as Pelissero tweeted, leaving coaches to consider preemptively going for two in overtime in order to avoid the opposing team following up an initial touchdown with their own touchdown and a two-point conversion. Essentially, a team can’t bank on a touchdown and extra point standing as enough to keep the game going if the opposition scores a TD in response.

Of course, all of this could be solved if teams would, you know, play defensive effectively enough to force a change of possession. There are three phases to the game, folks, and Cincinnati did exactly this to win the AFC Championship Game a week after Buffalo’s heartbreaking loss, but this is not the place for soapboxes.

The forward-thinking league will continue its push beyond the modern era of the game with this rule change. It might not be long before the adjustment in rules applies to every game.

 


Also notable among rule changes and resolutions passed Tuesday: The league made permanent a health-and-safety change to free kick formations, and also allowed clubs to block other teams from hiring away secondary football executives (i.e., assistant general managers) prior to the completion of the NFL draft.

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