The NFL’s overtime rules have changed quite a bit since 2010, but that hasn’t stopped NFL teams from trying to tweak them in recent offseasons.
The NFL employs an overtime format that is unique among major North American sports. There is an element of sudden death in the overtime period, as the team that receives the ball first can end the game if they score a touchdown.
However, in recent years, teams like the Chiefs, Eagles and Ravens have made proposals to change that rule. The proposals differ, but they all have at least one thing in common. At a minimum, they want to mitigate the impact that the overtime coin toss has on the outcome of the game. Some even go out of their way to ensure that both teams have the ball in extra time.
Since 2010, there have been some major changes to the NFL’s overtime rules, but there have been even more proposals that have fallen by the wayside. But after the Chiefs-Bills game during the divisional round of the 2022 NFL playoffs, it looks like we’re bound to get more rule change requests in the coming months and years.
Below is a summary of the major changes to the NFL’s overtime rules, both enacted and proposed, since the league implemented its new postseason overtime rules in 2010.
NFL overtime rules, proposed changes since 2010
2010: NFL changes postseason overtime rules
The NFL first changed its sudden-death overtime rules in 2010. At the time, the NFL adopted new overtime rules for the postseason only. The main change was that a field goal made no longer ended up in overtime; only a touchdown on the first possession would end the extra period.
The new rule passed 28-4 and was recommended by the NFL competition committee 6-2. The main reason was that Rich McKay, the team that won the coin toss in time extra, he won the game almost 60 percent of the time and 34.4 percent of the time on the first possession.
“A lot of people on the committee, myself included, are so-called traditionalists,” then-Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian said for ESPN. “I’m proud to be one. But once you saw the stats, it became clear that we had to do something.”
Then-competition committee co-chair Rich McKay also explained that the proposal was popular because it kept the sudden-death aspect that is unique to NFL overtime.
The rule change came in the wake of the Saints’ overtime victory over the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game in 2010, but was not directly related to the rule change. In fact, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf reportedly voted against the trade.
“You need consistency from the regular season and the postseason,” Wilf said.
2012: NFL implements postseason overtime rules in regular season
Two years later, Wilf got the consistency he thought was important in implementing any rule changes. The NFL extended its new postseason overtime rules to the regular season starting in 2012.
This came after two postseason games had been played under the new overtime rules. The first was the 2011 Broncos-Steelers game, which Tim Tebow immediately ended by throwing a game-winning touchdown to Demaryius Thomas on the first offensive play of the overtime period. The second was the 49ers-Giants game in 2012, in which the Giants won despite being stopped on their opening series. They stopped the 49ers and drove to the game-winning field goal.
The sample size was small, but the playoff overtime rule change was popular enough with NFL owners that it was moved to the regular season. There was always the possibility when they first implemented the rule change that it would expand in that capacity, and after a two-year test they evidently felt comfortable enough to accept it.
2017: The NFL shortens overtime
In 2017, the NFL competition committee recommended that the NFL reduce its overtime to 10 minutes. Previously it had been the same length as a normal room, 15 minutes. The league complied, thus creating 10-minute overtime periods.
Why did the NFL agree to do this? According to commissioner Roger Goodell, it was all in the name of player safety.
“We think this is a big change, particularly for teams that may be in an overtime situation and a long overtime situation that may have to come back and play on a Thursday night, so this is another positive change. “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. , by NFL.com.
In the five years before the rule change, 83 overtime games had been played in the NFL. Only 22 of them (26.5 per cent) lasted at least 10 minutes in extra time. Thus, the league shortened the extension to avoid injuries and extra plays, at the cost of ties being a little more frequent.
2019: The Chiefs’ proposal for both teams to receive the ball fails
The Chiefs made a major overtime rule change proposal in 2019 after losing to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. In that contest, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense never saw the ball in overtime, as Tom Brady and the Patriots ran 75 yards for a touchdown on their first possession, enacting the sudden-death touchdown rule.
As such, the Chiefs set out to change that. They proposed a rule that would allow each team at least one possession in overtime, even if the team that first had the ball scored a touchdown. The proposal was also proposed to eliminate the coin toss and simply rely on the pre-game coin toss to decide which team receives or kicks in overtime.
“I think everybody wants the opportunity for guys to do what they do,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said. professional football talk when asked about the proposed rule change in March 2019. “I don’t really see the downside of having that. Especially when you have a player like Pat Mahomes. It would have been a lot of fun. I think people, if they weren’t tuned in to a great game, they would have triggered that extra time.”
However, NFL owners disagreed with Veach, Andy Reid and the Chiefs. The Kansas City motion garnered little support during the meetings and was postponed due to a “lack of support” for the change, according to boston.com. The owners didn’t even vote on the issue.
Ironically, those unchanged rules ended up benefiting the Chiefs three years later during their playoff victory over the Bills.
2020: Eagles seek to change coin toss rules, denied
The Eagles crafted a proposal in 2020 that sought “minimizing the impact of the overtime coin toss”. How? Well, it involved using total touchdowns to determine who got the ball in overtime, as you describe SB Nation.
At the end of regulation playing time, the team that has scored the most touchdowns during regulation time will have the same options as the team that wins the coin toss before the game. If the teams have scored the same number of touchdowns, the Referee will immediately toss a coin at center field, in accordance with the rules for a regular pre-game toss. The captain of the away team will call the draw again.
The Eagles cited “competitive fairness” and “fan engagement” as the primary reasons for the requested rule change.
In short, the team that was better offensively and had the most touchdowns would get the ball first. So instead of relying on a coin to choose which team would play first, they rely on a stat related to the game.
Of course, as the proposal points out, that rule change would not entirely eliminate the need to flip a coin. It would still be necessary if the teams had the same number of touchdowns.
That’s part of why the proposal never made it to the voting process as a potential NFL rule change. And it may also be part of the reason the Eagles traded to support another possible overtime rule change in 2021.
2021: Ravens and Eagles “place and pick” overtime proposal closes
The Ravens and Eagles took an unorthodox approach to changing the NFL’s overtime rules. They devised a proposal to give the overtime coin toss a clear competitive advantage in the overtime period.
Here’s what overtime would look like under the proposal. The winner of the coin toss can choose one of two things. They can choose to start the ball in attack or defense or they can choose where to place the ball to start extra time.
For example, a team could choose to receive the ball, but then their opponent could choose to place the ball on their own 1-yard line, making it necessary for the attacking team to drive downfield to score. Conversely, a team could choose to place the ball at their own 15-yard line and that would force their opponent to make the difficult decision of being on offense or defense.
This would create a true sudden death format that would minimize the impact of the coin toss in overtime. Why? Because the winning team would not automatically benefit from winning the toss, as if they chose to receive, they could see the ball placed deep in their own territory. And if they choose to lay the ball, they would have to play defense.
“We think the main thing is the pick and choose aspect to make it fair,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. by ravens.com. “Any luck involved would be the bounce of the ball, not the toss of the coin. I think that’s something the fans would appreciate.”
“While it’s really intriguing and fun, strategically it has a lot going for it. It’s a very simple concept,” he added. “I think it’s easy to understand, once you get the hang of it. There are a lot fewer lines in the rulebook, I can tell you that.”
Still, NFL owners weren’t ready to adopt that rule in 2021. The proposal was rejected because “didn’t get enough support” of the competition committee. Neither did the team’s proposal for a 7 1/2-minute non-sudden-death overtime.
That said, competition committee chairman Rich McKay praised the Ravens’ pitch on the idea, noting that it could “take a long time” to fully understand.
“That was an original idea,” McKay said in a conference call with reporters. “I thought Baltimore did a really good job of explaining it. I think ideas like that take a long time to marinate and understand. It didn’t get a lot of support, but I’ve been around rules before that didn’t have a lot of support over the years and from It suddenly happened. I think it’s good that they brought it up.”
The league made an overtime change before 2021. They finally eliminated overtime for preseason games in 2021 after several years of teams proposing it go. It’s just not necessary in exhibition games where the third and fourth string players usually play at the end of regulation time.