NFL Approves Modified Overtime Rules for Postseason

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - The NFL has approved a new rule for postseason games, mandating that each team will get possession of the ball at least once. If the score remains tied at that point, the game will move to sudden death—next team to score wins. 

The proposal was brought forth by the Colts and Eagles and was ratified by a 29-3 vote, per the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

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36 comments, Last at 06 Apr 2022, 2:55pm

1 Interesting, although a bit…

Interesting, although a bit light on details. (I.e. it's sudden death after the first 2 possessions... so if still tied after A & B's possession ....what happens?  Another coin flip? Possession reverts to A again?

The second basically means a TD+2pt wins as B can't gain any more points, and A gets possession back after B's possession. (So it ends up kinda similar to to the 6+2 wins, but longer)

4 Depends how it works if tied…

Depends how it works if tied after the initial 2 possessions. If A gets the ball back after B's possession, then you don't want to defer. Honestly, I would repeat pairs of possessions till you get a winner. 

5 I'm not entirely sure how…

I'm not entirely sure how the information advantage gained by B weighs against the 3rd possession advantage still held by A. My instinct is to prefer B, given they should always be able to end the game on offense by going for 2 after TD-TD (in almost no circumstance should A ever go for 2). But I don't know whether it is clear cut. Interested to see what the overall numbers would say.

6 Assuming you resume normal…

Assuming you resume normal football after the first 2 possessions, A's choice after a TD is interesting. If they go for 2 and make it, they virtually win, as even if B gets  8, A just needs a FG to win, which should be a very high percentage play with tired defenses. If they go PAT, then B can win with 8. (And basically HAS to got for it, as mentioned before).  So it comes down to if you think you have a better chance of going for 2 or stopping the other guy going for 2.  Basically, it hinges on what the 2 pt conversion rate is in these late and tired situations. If a normal situation, A should never go for 2. If your in this cases where offences do what they's not so clear, since 8 points is basically a win for A. 

If feels like it boils down to the Ttians version where 8 points on first possession wins but with more game theory and football involved.  

This is a case where I would be Ok with not having a coin toss to start over time and just having it fixed in some way, either based on the home team or the opening toss. 

It's really important what happens if tied after those first two possessions. 

19 Defer for the win

The receiving team has the sudden death first mover advantage only if the game gets to a third possession after both teams score. In practice, that means two FGs, or two TDs + 2pt conversions.

The kicking team starts sudden death if the receiving team does not score.

It gets to play four-down football into field goal range if the receiving team scores a FG. This improves their chance of both a FG and a TD, by in effect shortening the field.

It gets to play four-down football the length of the field and goes for 2 points if the receiving team scores a TD and converts for either 1 or 2 points. (It either has to go for two, or it should go for two to negate the sudden death advantage) It can kick an extra point for the win if the receiving team failed their conversion.

So, yes, deferring is the right choice if you win the toss.

This change does NOT make the coin toss less important to the outcome of the game. So it fails in that way. But it does (almost) guarantee that teams play on both sides of the ball, which is a plus. And I hope it reduces the general level of whining about playoff OT.

3 UGH.  This doesn't make it…

UGH.  This doesn't make it fairer; it just changes who holds the advantage.

They should have just gone back to pure sudden death but with initial spot and possession determined by "I slice, you pick".

8 A commonsensical change…

A commonsensical change. There's still an asymmetry and the team that wins the coin flip still has a significant advantage, but it's an improvement.


Personally, I would go for more something much simpler and quicker. One of the reasons OT is always dissatisfying to me is that you go from a situation where one team or other other is racing against the clock to a leisurely, slow-paced tempo, as if it's the middle of the second quarter again. A dramatic, tense finish is often followed by a boring, slow overtime.


In the regular season, I would just let teams tie. That would make it less likely for playoff spots to be decided by semi-arbitrary tiebreakers, which would be an improvement. In the playoffs, I would have teams alternate two-point conversions until one team scores on their attempt and stops the other team. Or, I would have a sudden death two-point conversion format in which the home team gets to go first. That would make the regular season more meaningful, which would restore some of the relevance that has been lost with 14 teams making the playoffs and only two teams getting byes.


I think these would be huge improvements. However, they would never fly with fans.

12 There's at least one other…

There's at least one other fan (myself) who would like to see ties return at the end of regulation during the regular season. Every OT rule since inception is trying to balance player exhaustion and fairness. The fairest thing with zero extra player safety issues has always been just letting the tie stand. 

Playoffs are much tougher. I'd play a 10-minute 5th quarter with 4th quarter rules. If it's STILL tied, 2 point conversions until a winner is produced. It's not exactly fair, but after 70 minutes, it's time to get a winner and move on.

35 Why not save the trouble and…

Why not save the trouble and just go to 2 pointers right away?

Why would 70mins be enough, but 60 not?

You play the game who scored the most points after 60 minutes. 

To be honest, I would just continue football after 60 minutes and just have the game continue into a sudden death.

No coin toss. No new game. Just continue until someone scores. 

Unfair? You shouldve scored more or stopped them.

36 That basically removes the…

That basically removes the clock pressure from the end of the 4th in some cases.  It would be a big change. No point in tying the game up as the other side will have the ball and however long they need to score to break it. 

15 Definitely agree with…

Definitely agree with regular season ties. 

The 2 point attempts is basically the equivalent of penalty shootouts in soccer. My first instinct is to reject it because I don't like the random element (in soccer it also greatly encourages negative play, when underdogs desperately hold out for the relative 'lottery' of a shootout). But on reflection, nobody is about to turn their TV set off when a shootout begins. It may not be the best method for producing the most worthy winner, but you can't argue with the tension/entertainment it provides.

16 Anyone sane...

.... agrees with regular season ties. Which would eliminate the added injury risk etc of OT for 272 out of 285 games.

But then have proper overtime in the playoffs.

20 The 2 pt. conversion idea is…

The 2 pt. conversion idea is terrible. Did you see the Auburn Alabama game last year? Anticlimatic ending to a great game. 

Any changes to OT should be to make it more fair and less random, and this would be the opposite.

23 No I didn't. I don't watch…

No I didn't. I don't watch college football. But I'll take your word for it. 

The problem with seeking 'fairness' above all else is you risk continually making rules more long-winded and more contrived. As has been pointed out above, this new addition won't necessarily make OT any fairer, but it will (on average) make the games longer.

I don't know if alternate 2pt conversions are the solution, but a brief, pressure-fueled end-game situation can have merit from an entertainment perspective, even at the expense of 'fairness' (e.g. penalty shootouts in soccer).

All that said, my preferred solution would still be the auction/spot-and-choose method which was tabled (and rejected) last year. I guess it was probably deemed too complex for the average fan (and perhaps for certain coaches as well).

24 Problem with the spot-and…

Problem with the spot-and-choose was that both coaches would basically pick the largest value and it would come down to a coin-flip anyway. If you get out bid, the loss is on the coach, but otherwise, it's on the no coach would risk getting out bid, so it probably wouldn't mean anything. 

Multiple issues are the thing.  Playing a full quarter is the fairest, but unacceptable for other reasons. It's hard to find something that is both quick and fair. 

31 So are you suggesting all…

So are you suggesting all coaches would 'bid' to start at their own 1 yard line? I still think that would be sub-optimal in all but the most extreme cases. A failure to gain a first down buried that deep would almost certainly lose the game, and even the most efficient offenses only convert to a fresh set of downs at ~75%.  

But even if two 'max bids' did occur, you could begin increasing the yards to go until a winner was found. 

Although again, this is probably all too novel/complicated for many fans.

32 Not sure how to find stats,…

Not sure how to find stats, but offences are generally more efficient late in the game vs tired defenses.  so the 75% number goes up a fair bit.

The first time a coach bids the 30 yards and his opponent bids 20, marches down the field and wins, everyone afterward would bid 1.  It might be interesting to allow bidding into back of the end zone, as that would put the safety in play, so more risk. 

11 Safeties

How would a safety factor in?    I assume it would end the game as currently done?     The team that scored the two points wouldn't be forced to play offense I hope 

17 Kneeldowns

In reply to by Doug G

If they were they'd just kneel 4 times. So that seems kinda pointless and I assume they will say that safety and Pick-6 end it.

22 Fatigue impact on Kick/Receive strategy?

Re: the discussion about information dictating wanting to be offense second:

Suppose team A just tied it up at the end of regulation, and wins the toss. Team B's defense was just on the field at the end of 60 minutes of football, and depending on how long that final drive took, might be pretty gassed. The break before overtime isn't that long.

Would there be an advantage to be gained by making B's defense go right out there and defend another drive? And also, A's defense would have likely had 10-20 minutes rest (two drives plus the OT break) before it has to stop B on the second drive of OT. At a micro level, individual defensive player fitness and injury state is also a factor, but within the same framework of decision.

Might forcing B's defense to play back to back drives, and giving A's defense longer rest,  outweigh the information gained by knowing what the result of the first OT drive was? I don't know the answer, it's an honest question.

26 Fatigue hasn't been studied…

Fatigue hasn't been studied rigorously as far as I know, but ostensibly, I guess it makes sense. 4th quarter pass rush anecodatally is definitely affected by a fatigue. 

As a fan of the Colts, I do remember many instances where the opposing defense was run ragged by Peyton Manning as he no huddled his way down the field; never allowing any substitutions. Ne famously felt the wrath of this in the afc championship game on the final Colts drive. And of course, I will never forgive Willie McGinnist for faking an injury and then making the winning goal line stop in a huge swing game in 03 that ultimately was the decider in who got homefield throughout the playoffs in the AFC.

Its sort of a stretch to say this, but not entirely unfounded either, but those regular season matchups between Indy and NE had a huge say in who went to the SB in 03, 04, and 06. 

27 The more I think about it,…

The more I think about it, there isn't an elegant way to solve the OT fairness issue. As nat detailed well above, the kicking team has a huge advantage when it comes to information gained. Even if it has 0 faith in its defense stopping the opposing offense, it can always decide to go for 2 and win it out right, thus negating the advantage of potentially getting only 1 posession(yes I am aware if the receiving team went for 2 first and was successfull...)

How do we solve this? Because, to me, all this does is swing the coin toss favor to the kicking team over the receiving team; whereas in the past, it favored the receiving team. 

I am a bit reticent to favor the decision to defer all regular season games to ties. I think OT is fun even in the regular season. On net, gun to my head, I'd rather have incumbent rule. Defense is a part of the game. 


28 I tend to agree. But this…

I tend to agree. But this way does assure that both teams get to play offense. That should reduce complaining, at any rate.

If it turns out to be overly imbalanced, it could be tuned by moving the opening kickoff spot. It doesn’t have to be the spot and choose bidding idea. But it could be.

29 I have a feeling that…

I have a feeling that Buffalo game was going to result in overtime griping no matter what.

At some point you just have to acknowledge that your defense wasn't good enough for the second year in a row and that's why you didn't win. Or you were so inconsistent during the regular season that you gifted a team that was bumbling for much of the early parts, home field advantage once again.

33 "The more I think about it,…

"The more I think about it, there isn't an elegant way to solve the OT fairness issue."

At least when using any ending that isn't based on time. Footballs' parameters are based on time, not scoring. So when the game can end on something other than the clock hitting triple zeros, you are affecting the dynamics of the game. Basketball and hockey are similar and they play a shortened OT, not some convoluted rules where the coin toss has a outsized influence.

The only fixable method is to play a set time (10 minutes in my opinion) and see who the winner is afterwards. The home team automatically wins the toss. It isn't perfect, but it does ensure we get an ending that reflects an NFL game.

The problem is this all started from a "sudden death" doesn't work framework and all the NFL has done is bastardized it.