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NFL Approves Change To Overtime Rules For Postseason Games

NFL clubs approved a change to the overtime rules in postseason games, guaranteeing that both offenses will get the ball.


PALM BEACH, Fla.—The NFL made a change to its overtime rules in postseason games, guaranteeing that both teams have a chance to possess the ball.

While the regular-season overtime rules will remain the same—a touchdown on the opening drive wins the game—NFL clubs agreed that in the postseason a change was needed.

Rich McKay, the chairman of the NFL Competition Committee, said the discussion prior to the vote was "very data driven," and noted that since 2010 when the current format was put in place, 12 postseason games have gone to overtime, and 10 of those have been won by the team that won the coin toss, with seven of those teams winning with a touchdown on the opening possession of overtime.

That list, of course, includes the Seahawks' NFC Championship Game victory over the Packers, which ended on a Russell Wilson touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse, but the game that finally convinced NFL clubs to approve a change seems to be last year's divisional round thriller between the Chiefs and Bills. That game, which featured a wild, back-and-forth fourth quarter, was won by Kansas City in overtime without the Bills offense getting to take the field, a result that to many fans was an unsatisfying finish to what McKay called, "one of the greatest 20 or 30 minutes of football I've ever seen."

Speaking at the league meetings prior to the vote, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he was in favor of the proposed change, even though his team has benefited from the old rule in the past, not only in the NFC Championship Game, but also in several regular-season wins including a 2012 win in Chicago, a 2014 win over Denver, and a 2019 win over Tampa Bay.

"I like that we're trying to figure it out," Carroll said. "I like that we're continuing to progress to figure, is there a better way to do this thing? I would like to see both teams have an equal shot, and it doesn't feel like that when you go right down the field and score. We've been a beneficiary of that over the years, but I still think it should be as balanced as it can be."

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