Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 Mar 2010

NFL Changes Playoff Overtime Rules

Well, Peter King should be pleasantly surprised.

The NFL owners have approved the new overtime playoff format that will prevent a team from winning a game based on a first-possession field goal.

The proposal needed 24 votes to carry and passed 28-4.

Posted by: David Gardner on 23 Mar 2010

173 comments, Last at 08 Jan 2011, 8:00am by Richard Gadsden


by ChicagoRaider :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 3:35pm

Do they get rid of the freaking tuck rule? Noooooo....

by Sancho Gaucho (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 3:47pm

Personally, I don't like a rule that is applied only in playoffs. But, with 2 rules co-existing, the playoffs have the better one.

Basically, it goes in the same sense as the "2-possessions" or the "first-to-4" rules.

by TerryW :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 4:43pm

I was always a big fan of first-to-4.

Elegant, catchy, easy to understand.

But Florio just pointed out that a safety will (and logically should) end the game. So there's something that the new rule will cover that "first-to-4" wouldn't have. Unless you made it "first-to-4 except for a safety", which, now that I think about it, is the best rule of all.

by RaxGrissman :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:30pm

I disagree. A safety is a great defensive feat, and also gives your offense a good chance to win it on the next drive. If you can't, then you don't deserve to win.

by Brendan Scolari :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 6:47pm

I don't think that's the only difference. A field goal still wins the game I believe, just not if it's on the first possession.

by Kibbles :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 8:15pm

The best rule of all is actually "sudden death, play continues at the beginning of OT where it left off at the end of the 4th". Simple, easy, eliminates all questions of "fairness", and doesn't involve creating a whole bunch of random rules that don't exist during regulation football. Just treat the transition from 4th quarter to OT the same as the transition from the 3rd to the 4th instead of treating it like the transition from the 2nd to the 3rd.

by BlueStarDude :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 8:32pm


by zzyzx :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 8:48pm

The reason why I don't like that is that it takes away an obvious source of excitement. Suppose the Pats tie the Colts with 45 seconds left in the game. The Colts receive the ensuing kickoff at their own 35 with 36 seconds left and no timeouts. Can Manning get the ball downfield fast enough?

Eh, it wouldn't matter under the new rule.

by dbostedo :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 10:12pm


by Marko :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:08am


by Deelron :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 2:10am

This, it is a huge disincentive to any risk/reward decision during regulation. It actually makes the game less exciting. At least the disadvantage of losing the coin toss provided some incentive towards trying to win the game in regulation.

by Myran (not verified) :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 3:00pm

I liked that idea at first blush a while back, but then thought about the consequences. There will be MANY more overtime games now that teams won't be in a rush to win the game. If it's tie and there's little time left, I'm DEFINITELY going to overtime to get the best position possible instead of trying beat the clock.

More overtime games = No way it's going to pass.

by RaxGrissman :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 3:43pm

I think any team with a passable offense will still try to win the game in regulation, given a reasonable amount of time on the clock. To me, if you have a minute, even with no timeouts, you're obligated to at least try. 30 seconds maybe not, unless you have an awesome offense. It also clearly has a lot to do with field position. But that's true for the current system too; people kneel and such at end of regulation all the time. I don't think teams will 'play for OT' as much as people think they will, and it's unlikely to cause many more OT games.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 3:57pm

"Here, this band-aid should stop the hemorrhaging."

by Key19 :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 4:24pm

Step in the right direction. Someday we will get a 10 min overtime period.

by Phil Osopher :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 4:26pm

Why not just have a full 10 minute period? any ties goes to another ten minute period?

I didn't mind the old rule at all in the first place and figured the media hellstorm was ESPN being bored of talking about Favre and Tebow 24/7

I guess Donovan McNabb was just ahead of his time

by Nathan :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 4:39pm

safety on the 1st possession wins the game in OT... best play in football gets more powerful!

by DeepThreat (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:09pm

I’m thinking that maybe the real problem is the COIN FLIP ITSELF.

They need to come up with a better way to determine WHO TO GIVE THE BALL TO FIRST…

They could go the parity route and give it to the visiting team or the team with the worst record.

Or they could reward the team that has out-played the other team that day.

Maybe come up with a possession tie-breaker list like they do for the playoffs. Time of possession… most touchdowns… most yards… last team to score…

How about the team that lost the opening kickoff automatically wins the OT coin flip ???

That would let coaches game plan a close game at the end.

I kind of like that.

I know… I need a hobby…

by RaxGrissman :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:32pm

None of those metrics really makes any sense at all in judging who was better. Now the coin flip is minimized in importance. So what's the problem?

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 6:09pm

youre onto something. The main problem is with the coin flip and the end of the game would get extremely exciting in regulation if they have a possession tie breaker. This is my favorite OT scenario yet. It gets rid of random chance which the coin flip and essentially the main problem is.

by Egaloc (not verified) :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:20am

Why is the coin flip the problem?

If the game is going into overtime, that means the teams are roughly evenly matched (at least, that day). If there was some automatic criterion that determined who would get possession, I imagine that it would make close games considerably more boring at the end. Why go for a 60-yard FG and risk a return if you'll get the ball back anyway? For that matter, why not just run out the clock?

"Or they could reward the team that has out-played the other team that day."

...if one of the teams clearly outplayed the other, why would they go to OT in the first place?

by dryheat :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 11:57am

I realize the argument against is "because then we're minimizing the kicking game." But to me the better solution is to place the ball on the far 25 yard line, and the winner of the toss gets to choose offense, defense, or which side they'd like to defend. Kicking game will still be important, because there is a pretty good chance punts will be involved, as field position becomes paramount if the offense is looking at 3rd and long from their own territory. I think the opening kickoff can be sacrificed in order to maintain the pure sudden death format, which I'm not sure anybody would have a problem with if offense had to go 50 yards just to get into long field goal range. I think some coaches might even opt to take defense first in that case.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 3:58pm

But automatically placing the ball on the 25 penalises teams with strong-legged, slightly less accurate than weak-legged, much more accurate, probably older kickers.

Personally I'd just go back to kicking off from the 35-yd line which is when things started to get worse.

Or was it the change to k-balls?

Or eliminating the (flying) wedge from kick returns ...

by Dennis :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:47pm

No,the problem is that under the sudden-death system, the team that got the ball first won almost 60% of the time since they moved the kickoff back to the 30. It doesn't matter how you decide who gets the ball when getting the ball gives such a huge advantage.

by are-tee :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:10pm

If they don't extend it to the regular season also, it won't have too much of an effect. Before this year's Minn-NO game, how many playoff games in the past ten years have been won on a first-possession field goal?

by Sarcasoma (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:12pm

They have no desire to extend regular season games. Only extending playoff games is cost effective.

by Brendan Scolari :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 6:49pm

Can someone explain this though? Is the NFL really less popular than whatever crap progamming that comes after it?

by jebmak :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 11:59pm

Pretty sure that it is 60 minutes. Considering that helf way through the 4th quarter every damn week we hear, "If you tuned in to watch 60 minutes..."

by Deelron :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 2:12am

Except on the West Coast!

by dryheat :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 11:58am

The players have no desire to play longer games without a corresponding increase in pay.

by Jerry :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:27pm

The networks don't sell ads for overtime, so it's dead weight for them.

If it's the first game of a doubleheader, they don't start showing commercials on the late game until the whole network is in place, so they're jamming their ads into less time. Fox has their post-game show after the late game, so lengthening overtime wouldn't be too disruptive, but CBS has a popular prime time lineup that they'd prefer not to delay, as well as late local news that stations would prefer not to delay.

by Dennis :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:49pm

Plus an early game running long makes viewers miss the start of late games. Or in some situations, the idiotic home-team telecast rules force the networks to cut away from the end of the early game becaue they have to show the start of the late game. So longer overtimes would make that happen more often.

by Sophandros :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 5:23pm

Indy lost to San Diego a couple years ago in the same manner in the playoffs.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Eddo :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 5:54pm

Actually, the Chargers scored a touchdown on their first overtime possession in that game (box score); nothing would have changed had the current rule been in place.

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 12:39pm


and I dislike the new rule. Booo hooo hooo, teams that win the coin toss are winning at a 60% where as before it was a 46% clip. The first thing you could do is move the kickoff back to the 35 yard line and I would be in favor of that.

by RaxGrissman :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 1:19pm

What's the point of life if you find mediocrity acceptable? Obviously we can minimize the coin flip and allow for a more fair game, a more INTERESTING game. But you don't care. Quit being afraid of change.

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 3:21pm

The NFL is not a mediocre product, the only reason they are changing the rules is because the teams that lose in OT cry that it was unfair.

If you really beleive the crybabies then move the kickoff back to the 35, learn to play defense, learn to play special teams, or win the game in regulation.

If you lost a game during current NFL rules you can't say that it was unfair. If you were really the better team then make a play and win the fricken game. It's not life or death here, just a football game.

by Eddo :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 4:47pm

"The NFL is not a mediocre product, the only reason they are changing the rules is because the teams that lose in OT cry that it was unfair."

Bzzt. The Vikings, the most recent example of a team that would have been affected by the new rule, voted against it.

by RaxGrissman :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 11:11pm

Oh snap!

by tonic889 (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:14pm

I absolutely love that the impetus for this change was a game in which the eventual losing team threw a horrible interception, while in field goal range, at the end of regulation. Yes, it's clearly unfair that they lost.

by RaxGrissman :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:35pm

Yea, but you're just cherry picking there. In the end they were still tied at the end of regular play. Would you have mentioned that if it had happened in the 1st quarter?

by Sean McCormick :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:21pm

Yes, but then we followed up that game with a very well-played Super Bowl that was one interception away from going to overtime, and had the Super Bowl ended in a similar way as the NFC Championship game, there would have been a great deal of bitterness.

I would prefer that the rule be consistent in the regular season as well if they are going to implement it, but then again, the playoffs already have a different overtime rule than the regular season (multiple overtimes), so it's not unprecedented to do this. Should be interesting.

by RaxGrissman :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:36pm

Rotoworld seems to say that they will visit putting this rule in place for the regular season in May, which is (good) news to me.

by Brendan Scolari :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 6:55pm

That's very good news.

by GentlemansAgreement (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 6:12pm

The new rule is shite. The old rule was good.

Each team gets sixty minutes on a level playing field to beat the other guy. If you don't manage to do that, that's your fault.

And I absolutely agree with Belichick. OT SHOULD be subject to chance, since coaches SHOULD be forced to try avoid it. The coaches of the Dick Cheerio Chaps Jauron kind will now always go for overtime.

Super Bowl XXXVI, Pats vs. Rams ... ninety seconds left on the clock, no timeouts, Patriots go for it and win the game in regulation. All time classic moment in Super Bowl history. New format, Belichick probably (it is less likely for him than for some other coaches, but still ...) opts for overtime, some ridiculous rules nobody understands are applied, and one of the two teams wins the game. Huh?

What's unfair about the outcome of SB XXXVI (besides the video thing?). Nothing.

Did the Vikings complain about the Championship game? Should they? They lost the friggin game in regulation.

by Brendan Scolari :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 6:52pm

"Each team gets sixty minutes on a level playing field to beat the other guy. If you don't manage to do that, that's your fault."

Wrong. If you don't manage to do that AND lose the coin flip it's your fault, but if you WIN the coinflip then you get rewarded for not putting the other team away. That's why the rule will be changed, and it's absolutely the right call.

by AFireSnake78 (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 7:10pm

That's a ridiculous comment. First of all, neither team knows who will win the coin flip during regulation. Hence both should go for the win. You are not rewarded, you got away, and over the course of a season or more, this will even out.

by tuluse :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 7:20pm

I seriously doubt teams don't try to end the game in regulation.

by Spielman :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 9:06am

The hell?

There is nothing about the new rule that is going to encourage teams to play for overtime when they have a chance to win in regulation. This statement makes no sense.

Also, you're complaining about nobody understanding this rule? In American Football? Really? THIS rule? Wow.

by FooBarFooFoo (not verified) :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:46pm

Sorry guys, bet these two comments are rubbish.

Some coaches opted for OT - to avoid a costly mistake like a pick six at the end of regulation - even in the old format ... evening the chances for both team sure makes it more likely for coaches to go for OT. Ninety seconds left, no timeouts, how many coaches would go all out under the new rules? Almost anybody would try to get a FG, but with a vanilla, ball-securing offense.

What the hell did Madden say in SB XXXVI the Pats should do? Well sure he made the point that they should kneel and go for OT. And not every coach is a Belichick.

by Spielman :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 3:13pm

Why do people put "sorry" before writing something insulting? You aren't sorry at all; why waste my time and yours with a disingenuous apology? Either learn to disagree without being insulting, or embrace your inner jerk and don't apologize for being one.

Of COURSE some teams "played for overtime" when they perceived the risk of catastrophic error as outweighing the chance of scoring. That's hardly the point.

The actual point is, the new OT rules change NOTHING about the odds for either team at the end of regulation, even assuming that the new rule actually is exactly even for both teams. Since the coin flip is 50/50 and its outcome has not yet been determined, from the perspective of someone looking at their odds from the last few minutes of regulation, there isn't a rational argument for embracing OT now in situations where you'd have chosen to try to avoid it before.

by FooBarFooFoo (not verified) :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 5:18pm

The odds are not the same. Say under the current rules you have 60/40 for the winner of the coin toss (which is what one owner mentioned a couple of days ago). Say you get more even (which is my understanding why it is implemented - to remove/lessen the element of chance from OT) with the new ruling, probably 55:45 ...

Coaches who under TMQ's notion "coach to avoid blame" see a 60 percent chance of losing after losing the coin flip, and a 55 perceived percent chance of losing after losing the coin flip under the new format. Hence, a tad less randomness, a bit more control. Why take the risk in regulation?

Sure you look at the worst case scenario. The change is implemented under the umbrella, less chance.

by Spielman :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 6:14pm

Yes, the odds are not the same after the coin has been flipped. This is obvious, and the entire &^@*ing point of the rule change.

The odds, viewed from the perspective of someone making a decision before the coin is flipped, have to take into consideration the odds of both possible outcomes of the flip.


You're comparing the odds in the event of the flip being lost, and ignoring the balancing shift in the odds if the flip is won. And since I was explicitly talking about a point in time before the end of regulation when a hypothetical coach would be making a decision, both outcomes of the flip have to be taken into consideration in any rational decision-making process.

by DaveRichters :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 10:59am


Sure, but imagine that there was actually no football played, that overtime was just the coin flip, winner wins the game. The odds of winning are still 50/50, but I would guess that most coaches would prefer that the winner be determined by football rather than by coin flip and would choose to avoid overtime in this case. This is why the claim was made that if importance of the flip is reduced, overtime games may increase. I think it is quite a reasonable argument, and rational as well. It isn't a probabilistic argument, but that certainly doesn't mean it isn't rational.


by Scott C :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 4:29pm

yeah, its about loss of control. If you have the ball with a chance to win at the end of regulation, and feel like you have just as much control over victory in overtime, you will take less risks than if you feel that you have no control over victory in overtime.

Or at least, that is how most coaches tend to respond, regardless of whether the odds are the same with or without control. With control, the odds always seem better than they actually are.

by Joseph :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 6:15pm

"and had the Super Bowl ended in a similar way as the NFC Championship game, there would have been a great deal of bitterness."
Except for the few million Saints' fans in the Gulf South.

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 12:41pm

It doesn't make financial sense to have the new rules in the regular season. The object of overtime is to end the games quickly and relatively fairly and that currently happens. If you moved the ball up 5 more yards you'd probably have that win percentage move closer to 50% and everybody could stop crying.

by RaxGrissman :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 1:37pm

So we could have more touchbacks? The era of the weak kicker is over. That was done to promote the return game. Get with the times bro. Real solutions are needed.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 2:03pm

Move the kick up and get rid of touchbacks ... make teams return every kick ... even the ones which land in the endzone ... (kicks through the endzone would still have to touchback).

You could actually do that for all games regular season, postseason, regulation or overtime ...

by RaxGrissman :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 2:59pm

What about the ones that go in the stands? This makes no sense.

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 3:22pm

Did you read the later part of his post?

by RaxGrissman :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 11:13pm

Ah yes. Well it's still a pretty bad idea. Unless you think extinguishing the return game sounds like a fun and interesting way to go.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 8:07am

I don't think you would be, you'd be add more returns. Sebastian Janikowski has about the strongest leg in the game yet he doesn't put that many through the endzone.

Remember that since the kickoff was moved back circa 1994 they've introduced the k-ball to make things a bit harder ...

by RaxGrissman :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 3:34pm

Sure, but if you add 5 yards to each kickoff a lot more people will kick it out. It would also lead to more kickoff specialists like Rhys Lloyd just booming it out and calling it a win (nothing against Mr Lloyd again, he rocks touchbacks, but doing it from the 30y line is more impressive than the 35). This just sounds like an XFL idea.

by nat :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 4:23pm

Easily fixed.

Make kicking the ball through the end zone on the fly a penalty, and make taking a touchback on a ball that either hits or is caught in the end zone a penalty. On a touchback, the ball goes to the 10 or 30 yard line depending on which team gets penalized. Probably do this for kickoffs only, not for punts.

Et voila! Keeping the kickoff in play is now worthwhile. Running it out of the end zone is now worthwhile. Runbacks remain exciting and become even more frequent, but don't result in such good field position.

It's not what the NFL chose to do. But it could have worked - as far as reducing the impact of winning the OT coin toss. It would still allow games to end with a first drive field goal, which is what annoyed some fans. It could also be combined with the new rule to make the coin toss have even less effect.

by RaxGrissman :: Sat, 03/27/2010 - 12:17am

But then we discriminate against big legged kickers. I guess it would work, it's just kind of contrived. I don't see what's so bad about insisting that an OT win has to be by more than a FG

by Richard Gadsden (not verified) :: Sat, 01/08/2011 - 8:00am

Rugby rules would be good for kickoffs in general:

Ball goes out of play on the fly: receiving team gets the ball on the 50.

Ball in the endzone: in play, if you can't advance out of the zone, safety.

by are-tee :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:33pm

So, on the first possession of OT, do you go for it on 4th and short deep in opponents territory, or kick the field goal and hope your defense comes up with a stop? Let the mathematical projections begin...

by Thok :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:36pm

Just to verify something, if Team A gets the ball, then a double turnover play happens (say Team A throws an interception, and on the return Team B fumbles the ball back), then Team A is now allowed to kick a field goal, right?

I think the above is the case, but the NFL better make the above argument clear to the teams and the refs before the season starts.

by tuluse :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 7:46pm

That would be 2 changes of possession, so I think you could kick there.

Edit: If you follow one of the links, it says that you could win with a field goal if you recover an on-side kick, so I think your scenario would definitely allow the original team to win.

by JonC :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 10:11am

Yes, at least according to PFT; they could kick and win the game.

by LJ (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:37pm

Why did Minnesota vote against this? Wasn't the NFC championship game that they lost cited as one of the reasons to implement this rule change?

by are-tee :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 5:53pm

Maybe because if it happens again next year, they're "due" to win the coin toss!

by peachy :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 6:00pm

A couple of articles quote Wilf (pre-vote) as saying "You need consistency of the regular season and the postseason." (Though, as others have noted, the OT rules were already different in at least one respect - no ties in the playoffs.)

by Sancho Gaucho (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 6:52pm

It's different in what a playoff game is different from a regular season one. The rule is the same; it just recognizes the fact that is impossible to have a tie in the playoffs.

by andrew :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 10:01pm

Because it will beyond a doubt come back to bite the vikings in the other direction. Its the nature of their karma.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 2:04pm

Yes but they (quite literally) threw away the chance to win the game in regulation ...

by RaxGrissman :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 3:00pm

If the pick had of happened in the 1st quarter, you wouldn't have mentioned it. You're cherry-picking. However it happened, the game was tied when it went to OT. That's all that matters.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 6:08pm

Brian Burke's analysis suggested that this proposal actually still favors the coin flip winner by a significant margin.

(The second one there is the proposal the league has adopted.)

I'll keep saying play ten minutes for the playoffs and no regular season overtime.

by Brendan Scolari :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 6:54pm

Yeah, it obviously still favors the coin flip winner, they get to have a second possession (if there is one) before the other team does, and a third possession (if there is one) before the other team does, and so on. But it should at least mitigate the advantage a little bit. It's a start.

by Scott C :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 4:36pm

7.5 minute overtime, no sudden death everything else the same. If a team keeps the ball that long (almost impossible with 2 timeouts and a 2MW) they deserve to win. 10 minutes is too long.
5 or 6 minutes might even be enough given timeouts, 2MW, and out-of-bounds clock stoppage.

by Jimmy :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 7:03pm

I don't understand the whining that can happen about overtime. Every team gets the rules before the season begins and should plan accordingly. If you don't want to risk the vagaries of the coin flip then win in regulation. Simple really.

by greybeard :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 7:56pm

If a team loses in overtime after the other team wins the coin flip and scores a field goal in their first possession, the loosing team deserves to lose the game, but that does not mean it is fair or desirable. IMO while the looser deserved to loose, it is not true that the winner deserved to win.
Soccer has overtime and penalty kicks. They did try golden goal 8-10 years back and found out to be not (perceived as) fair and not entertaining. You can say that it is even more fair with the soccer golden goal rule as who starts the overtime has negligible impact, but most soccer fans thought the teams should have the right play until a set time just like the regulation rules. There is also some very memorable games (like the 1-1 regulation time and 3-3 overtime France-Germany game in Spain' 82) which makes current rule look good,
I like the idea of 2 halves of two-minutes of overtime as each team gets to start once and run their 2-minute offense. And if there are no winners then kick field goals, starting at 20 yards, then 25, 30, 35 and so on.

by PatsFan :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 7:51pm

Per Reiss:

One of the teams that voted against the change did so because they didn't want their coach to have to make tough decisions.


by towishimp (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 8:11pm

I'm getting tired of the "if you don't like overtime, win in regulation" arguments. You all know that's a completely empty argument, don't you? Do you really doubt that any team is ever hoping for overtime? "Oh, we could try to run the two minute drill and kick the game winning field goal, but why bother? The overtime rules are so great, let's just kneel three times and punt!" It's similar to the "just play defense if you don't want to lose under the current OT rules." I'm sure everyone tried to "just play defense." Sure, you can try to overcome an unfair rule, but that doesn't make the rule any less unfair.

by MJK :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 8:37pm

Sadly enough, a lot of coaches do exactly that. The most famous example I can think of is one where a coach DIDN'T...Pats-Rams. Rams score to tie the game and the Patriots get the ball back with 1:20 or so to go, still with at least one timeout (don't remember exactly how many). I think the Rams were out of timeouts? Or at least had sufficiently few that the Patriots could have knelt on the ball and gone to OT. John Madden, one of the most respected former coaches and one of the most well known announcers, went on record being adamant that they should have done so. Even as Brady was driving down the field, he kept repeating that he thought it was a bad idea. Even today, he says he disagreed with the decision, even though it won them their first SB.

And the sad thing is that I see other coaches do the same thing every season. That kind of timid behavior should be punished.

by Jimmy :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 10:03pm

I don't get how a rule that everyone knows about before the season starts is unfair. The game finished a tie. Breaking that tie is essentially manufacturing a victor however you do it. The current method is flawed but to some extent or other so will any other method. As it doesn't discriminate against any team I don't really see what the problem is.

If you want to see perfect world then you would replay the game a week later. Obviously this isn't possible so a method of splitting the tie has been created. In the very essence of what you are trying to do you are distorting the game.

by RaxGrissman :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 4:18am

It discriminates against the team who loses the coin toss, obviously.

by Spielman :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 9:19am

Taking your argument to its logical extreme:

If the only responsibility of overtime is to "manufacture a victor", and our only concern is that the system used should not discriminate against any team, as viewed from a position before the season starts, then why not just flip a coin to determine the winner?

It manufactures a winner even more efficiently, and it doesn't discriminate against any team. So why don't we just use this system?

by dryheat :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 12:07pm

"Oh, we could try to run the two minute drill and kick the game winning field goal, but why bother? The overtime rules are so great, let's just kneel three times and punt!"

That happens all the time. A team receives a kick or punt at it's 30 yard line or in, and we get kneel, kneel, end of regulation. Coaches are so ingrained in avoiding a turnover, that they'd rather go to overtime than let their offense try to move the ball in the last minute.

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 12:50pm

I'm tired of people thinking that football is all about offense.

The people that want OT changed think that
1) Football is all about offense
2) They also assume the team can easily go down the field and kick a GW FG.

Look man, both teams can't play offense at the same time. If one team is kicking off it means another team is receiving the kick. If one team is on offense the other team has to be on defense. You could have the riddulous college game, but you could easily argue against the fairness of that mess.

NFL OT being changes is most likely being changed because of whining gamblers in Vegas who lost their money fair and square.

by RaxGrissman :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 1:38pm

But, can you play good defense and still give up a 40 yard field goal? I'd argue yes.

by Scott C :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 4:40pm

You can turn it around the same way for Defense:

If a team moves down the field and kicks a 45 yard FG to win on the first possesion of OT, that team never had to prove it can play defense!

In short, any 'its about offense' arguments of this sort can easily be turned into 'its about defense' arguments since well, one team plays defense when the other plays offense.

by RaxGrissman :: Sat, 03/27/2010 - 12:25am

Its true. Also, come to think of it, since when is getting a field goal representative of great offense, or bad defense? A good defense should be allowed to make some mistakes. If a defense allows 5 field goals a game it is still pretty good overall. In fact, the best defense allowed 14.8ppg (Jets). So, basically, good defense can be holding a good offense to a field goal.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 8:13pm

gopd rule.

cant wait to see Nirv Turner in ot game if team make playoffos. Could
happen beuycause hoing to have close balttle with Raiders for division surpemey. both could make playoffs too.
let's say chagers make playoffs as wild card team.
afc wild card game Saturday early gamne at Houston
chagers 21 texams 21
chafgers get ball first in overttime
eventually get down field and have 4th and 10 at housotn 21. Would Truner call for 38 yard field goal try or would maybe try to get 1st down? That gboign to be fun type of thing to see happen.

by MJK :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 8:44pm

1). Would a safety necessarily end the game? It depends if the safety was considered a "possession" for the defending game, unless they have a specific provision in the rule saying explicitly that "a safety ends the game". But if the rule is simply "each team has to have a possession before the game can end", then it wouldn't, necessarily. Technically, the kick after a safety is a free kick, with recovery rules similar to a kickoff (i.e. the ball has to travel at least 10 yards, but is a live ball after that and can be recovered by either team), not a punt, so if you commit a safety in OT, you can (and certainly would) try an onside free kick to avoid losing. Desparate, yes, but possible to recover. And if you do recover, the other team still hasn't had a possession.

2). I don't care for this rule change. The main thing that irks me is that there is a different rule in OT than in the regular season, but even more so--there are scenarios where the winner of the coin toss has a clear advantage. I'm not sure without doing the analysis if it's better to kick off or receive...it depends on how strong the "knowledge effect" is of being the second team and knowing what you need to score to not lose on your possession...but either it will be small enough so that kicking off still has an advantage, or it will be large enough that receiving has an advantage. In either case, there is still an advantage to be obtained from winning a coin toss. So we're right back were we started before we changed the rule, except now with longer games and more confusing rules.

3). I'm solidly in the camp of keeping sudden death, but pre-designating the "coin toss winner". I like "home team gets the ball", or "team who had the ball in the first quarter gets the ball", but I also kind of like pro-football-references' idea of "team that last had a clear chance to win doesn't get the ball". Failing that, just play another timed period.

by Jimmy :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 10:04pm

How about team with most time of possession gets the ball first.

by jebmak :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 12:17am

Do we want to entice teams to milk the clock? Wouldn't we get fewer plays (less actual football) per game then?

I prefer home team gets it. Both teams can play the 4th quarter accordingly.

(Okay, I actually prefer no OT at all in the regular season, but I have given up on that.)

by Anonymous Coward (not verified) :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 7:50am

the other thing to consider there is that they cannot use a tee on the kick after a safety which might make it difficult for kickers to execute a traditional onsides.

by Spielman :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 9:29am

I'd be happiest with home team automatically wins the flip.

During the regular season, it potentially screws you 8 times, and potentially helps you 8 times. During the playoffs, it's just another reward for having the better record. Cool. Could even apply that to the Super Bowl instead of the conferences alternating the home team.

The biggest issue I can see is that it actually would suck some of the tension out of the game at the end of regulation in some instances. Visiting team scores and ties the game with :45 left, home team returns the kickoff to the 20. Do they try to pick up 40-50 yards to get into FG range, as they almost certainly would now, or do they sit on it, knowing they'd have another possession in OT, without the time crunch?

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 1:10pm

These rules changes WILL get more coaches blasted by Monday Morning QB's for stupid calls.

Team A gets the ball, marches down, kicks a FG
Team B, drives down the field and is stuck on 4th down and now has two choices...
1) Kick the FG, tie the game, and move into sudden death
2) Try and convert, score the TD and win.

So what happens when Team B coach kicks the FG on 4th and 2, the other team marches down the field and wins on Possession 2? Then he's labeled as playing Martyball and an ultra conservative loser.

What happens when Team B coach goes for it on 4th and 2 and his team fails to convert? Then he's labeled as a riverboat gambler and deserves to lose his job by much of the fanbase.

I doubt this rule would pass if up to a coaches vote. These guys already have enough to be criticised about.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 9:16pm

I still like the idea of an auction where each team bids for a starting position to get the ball first, and the team that bids for a worse position gets the ball first. Its fair, its interesting, and the great drama of unveiling the bids would be excellent. I forget where I heard this idea, and it might have been here at FO, but I find it brilliant.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 10:08pm

very very bad idea. teamms told competititon committe they want kickoffs tp stay and also to keep kickoff starting point same. reason: some teams pay good money to kick returners. take kick returners out of equaiton really stupid and wrong.
when think about it for more than 10 seconds you see auction very poopy idea.

by Mansteel (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 10:28pm

Poopy idea or not, I think the auction idea is the fairest one out there. Teams would have no room to complain as nothing is left to chance. If they don't get the ball to start OT, it's because they didn't want the ball where the other team was willing to start with it.

One issue that needs to be addressed, though: the side of the field that teams start on would have to be predetermined since sometimes the direction you're going in makes a huge difference (think wind in CHI or NY).

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 11:27pm

well first ofof J Fisher and R mckay alreayd explained teams want kickoffs to stay same. teams like cleve bowns shell out good moeny for kickoff weaponry. if cant use one of best weapons in overtime, then that is crappy thing

also just seems relaly silly like bush league rule. doesn't seem like good profesioanl rule. blind bid or open? if blind bid, ok one team choose to start at 16. other team want start at 14. so team that choose 14 win and get to get ball first. beecuase both teams pick difenert yard line then decision made. what if both chose to start at 16 yard line? now is coin flipped?

if not blind bid then who decides whcih team gets to bid first? if chagers play texams wild card gam and chargers pick 17 yard line then texams going to pick 16 yard lien.

maybe expalin auction better becuause sound really silly. maybe not udnerstanding it right and not even durnk tonight

by Nathan :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 11:25pm

this idea is ridiculous. an auction?

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 12:27am

What is so ridiculous about it. It would take one minute. Each team is given one bid, and the team willing to take the higher risk of starting with a worse field position gets the ball first. I guess, as someone higher up asked about wind, the team that loses gets to pick field position (or team that wins, either way).

It could either be a sealed bid, or a dutch. Sealed bid is each team blindly bids, and the team willing to take the bigger risk wins. I guess if they do somehow bid on the same yard line (the odds are quite small), then go ahead and flip a coin. It will be a rare enough occurance.

It could also be a dutch auction, where it starts at the one yard line (99 yards away from the endzone) and moves away, and the first team to bid to start from that yard line gets the ball.

Its totally fair, and it adds even more risk to the game. Would a coach be willing to take over at the 1, knowing that he would definitely get the ball? Some coaches who are risk takers would probably start with the ball, but could be worse off. There cannot be any complaining after it.

I guess there is merit to the idea that it is taking kickers and kick returns away from the game, but so what? It is still fairer than even the modified rule, which still benefits the team winning the toss. I believe that a toss is fair, becuase before the toss each team has an equal shot of winning the coin toss, but if there has to be some modification, the auction way is easily the fairest, in that there will be little complaining afterwards.

by Still Alive (not verified) :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:49am

I think an auction would be awesome!

by Nathan :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 11:56am

why make some convoluted blind bid bizarro auction thing that is totally unlike anything in any sport when you could implement a rule that simply states you have match or exceed the score (a la tennis tiebreaker)

coin flip, your opponent kicks a 3, you score a td, he's down 4 so he has to score 7 to put him up 3 again. say he does. if you don't manage to kick at least a fg he wins. if you kick a fg you're even, say he scores a TD and goes for two and makes it. now he's up 8. you have to score a TD and go for 2 to match.

to me that is logical, and relevant to other rules that are already in sports. an auction is just weird.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 12:17pm

Because the "matching" proposition is essentially a better version of the college rule, and is also nothing like the actual NFL game either. Also, having the second team know what they have to do, and have the added ability of NEVER having to make a decision of 4th down is a distinct advantage to have (that's why all college coaches decide to defend first in OT).

I realize the auction is foreign to the game of football, and I more than realize it will never happen in real life, but I find it the "fairest" option.

by Nathan :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 12:36pm

I think the best way is just another period of X minutes, with a new coin flip and new kickoff. No sudden death at all.

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 1:12pm

It doesn't shock me that it's popular on a stat geek website but not in the real world.

by Phil Osopher :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 8:08pm

stat geek or not, we usually try to argue our points w/ facts and logic. Try and tone down the name calling. Its not needed or wanted around here. If you disagree with someone's point, then tell them in a more congenial manner. We do have a level of decorum, being stat geeks and all.

and BTW, I don't agree that an auction would be practical and I am a professional stat geek.

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”
-Albert Einstein

by bubqr :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 5:08am

The auction is by far, the best proposition.
But :

1. Too innovative for a lot of people (see Nathan post)
2. Would force coaches to take decisions

by Signor Sack (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 9:24pm

What about this scenario. Team A takes first OT possession and scores a FG. So we go into "sudden death mode".

Team B then gets ball, maybe gets a decent kick off return. They throw a long pass, intercepted at the 1 yard line. The defender though tries to make a unnecessary return (running backwards a little bit) and is tackled in the endzone.

I dunno if that normally counts as a safety or a touch back. I would think if a defender intercepts on the 1, but runs backwards into the end zone trying to make a return and is tackled, that is considered a safety. If so, does Team B win even though they scored 2 points in OT, and team A scored 3? Or do they say game over at the point of the INT?

Captcha : Settling Telephone :-)

by Mansteel (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 10:23pm

So the main problem is that the team that the team that wins the coin toss wins too often. Thus, a rule is needed to lessen their chances of winning.

This was not a problem prior to 1993, when teams kicked off from the 35-yd line. The win rate for teams that won the coin toss was very close to the win rate for teams that lost the coin toss.

So doesn't it make sense to simply make the OT kickoff occur at the 35-yd line? Am I missing something?

by Signor Sack (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 11:35pm

IIRC they changed it to the 30 yard line because there were too many touchbacks. They wanted more kick return excitement (and also more offense I'm sure). I'm sure back then they thought all scenarios through, including how it will impact overtime games.... yup. :-)

I like the idea of moving the kickoff back to the 30 for OT. It seems so obvious. They have already gone the route of "different rules for OT", so why not choose the simplest change.

by Signor Sack (not verified) :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 11:37pm

Of course when I said "I like the idea of moving the kickoff back to the 30 for OT." I meant moving it UP to the 35 yd line for OT. Doh !

by Marko :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:10am


by erniecohen :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 9:12am

I think that the other big factor is the improved accuracy of kickers. Kickers prior to the change were 60% on FGs, whereas today's kickers are 80%.

Actually I really love the idea of a closed bid auction for where each team is willing to take the ball to start - an ideal opportunity for fan participation.

by Alex51 :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 12:16am

I agree.

by Jerry P. :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 1:32am

No, you're not. What you just pointed out is the obvious truth. This all started when they moved the kickoff 5 yards back. I pointed this out when the overtime format was discussed in this sites infancy.


To answer your question what you're missing is that the NFL cares about teams throwing up lots of points so they've given us a system that results in more points.

The goal isn't equity. It's more points.

*There was a whole post in there about field position being dynamic and how this still favors the receiving team because they will get better average starting field position than the second team if they punt(something the person above talking about the college system favoring the second team fails to take into account).

But I deleted it because it turned into a rant about how the NFL cares only about offense.

I need to go cry now because I just found out while researching this post the greatest show on turf would only be like the 12th best offense last season and the 10th best offense in 1993 is below the 15 year average for offensive efficiency.

by Dice :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 10:53pm

Fine for the playoffs, but I like sudden death for regular season. I don't wanna be stuck watching Panthers/Bucs OT when a game I might actually want to see is coming on next.

by Joe T. :: Tue, 03/23/2010 - 11:13pm

Simplest solution - one 8 minute overtime period, with the same rules as in the previous 4 periods of play, albeit only half as long. Then the teams play the same way they played in the previous 4 periods, with the same emphasis on offense, defense and special teams, with the same concerns over clock management and field position as in regulation time.

Mandating a possession by each team is likely to put the equivalent length of overtime near this 8 minute mark anyway, so you're not extending the game any longer.

The NFL should really focus on tweaking the scoring so that ties at the end of regulation are less likely - I think by implementing the 4 point field goal for 50+ yard kicks (tried in NFL Europe, along with an overtime format similar to above) they would see games that traditionally end in a tie after 4 quarters ending in decisions instead.

by silentrat :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 12:23am

All of these "just make it x minutes" ideas overlook how long a drive actually takes in the NFL. Maybe you guys just play Madden all day or something, but it's not uncommon for a scoring drive to take 6 or 7 minutes off the clock. Thus still providing a large advantage if the first team to have the ball scores on a long drive then gets to force the other team to score quickly. For what it's worth, I've always loved sudden death, if for no other reason than its exclusivity to football (among major sports)

by Still Alive (not verified) :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:48am

Hockey has sudden death(and in a format where it make infinitely more sense!). I am guessing you are from the south?

by Joe T. :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 7:23am

I've taken that into consideration. I can't find info on how long the avg offensive possession lasts, but I would not be opposed to reconsidering the time length of the OT period (NFL Europe used a 10 minute OT). I'm estimating that the average length of possession in game time is 3-5 minutes.

The team that receives the ball first after a traditional kick-off is always going to have an advantage if the game is to be decided in one period of play, whether you incorporate a time limit, sudden death, or mandate x number of possessions.

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 1:16pm

What makes you think NFL players will want to play another 8 minutues of bruising football when they don't have to? We're not talking about basketball or soccer here...

by Phil Osopher :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 8:10pm

This is for the fans that pay to watch not the players. They can take it up with their union to get more cash

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”
-Albert Einstein

by tally :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:09am

What about keeping the sudden death as is, but adding the rule that a missed field goal automatically hands the other team the win?

by Mike Y :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:16am

Ok, so let me get this straight. If Team A kicks a field goal to start OT, then the game goes into Sudden Death mode, right (i.e. next score by either team will win the game)? Also, if Team A punts, then the game goes into Sudden Death mode, right (i.e. next score by either team will win the game)?

If that is the case, then this rule is profoundly stupid. If Team A has 4th and 10 at the opponent's 20 yard line, why kick a 37 yard field goal, then kick off and give Team B possession at perhaps the 30 and 35 yard line if the next score wins, regardless of what that score is? Shouldn't Team A punt in that situation? There would be no benefit for kicking a field goal, Team A might as well punt from the 20 to pin Team B at the 5 yard line.

Someone correct me if I am wrong, but if I am right, then the league clearly didn't think this through.

by Marko :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:26am

You are not understanding the new rule. Let's say the score is 21-21. If Team A kicks a field goal to start OT, then Team A kicks off with the score 24-21. Team B now has the ball (assuming no turnover on the kickoff or onside kick recovery by Team A). If Team B scores a touchdown, Team B wins 27-24. If Team B kicks a field goal, the game is now tied 24-24. Team B kicks off, and the game is now sudden death like under the old rule. If Team B fails to score/turns the ball over, Team A wins 24-21. If Team A gets a safety on Team B's possession, Team A wins 26-21. I guess if Team A recovers a fumble in Team B's end zone, Team A would win 30-21.

by Mike Y :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:35am

Ok, that makes more sense. However, I still think a "first to 4" rule, as noted above, would work better, and be simpler.

by andrew :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 8:26am

1. If a team has timeouts left, let them burn a timeout to re-flip the coin.

2. Allow a team to burn overtime timeouts to re-flip the coin as well.

3. The yard line wager. Allow each team to let the other team kick off from closer in exchange for getting the ball first, in a manner of bidding. e.g., I'll let you kick from your 40. We'll let you kick from your 45. We'll let you kick from the 50. going once, twice, sold. If you go too far the other team will just onside kick since its so close anyway.

4. Use a possession arrow like college basketball.

5. Jump ball mid-court.

6. The previously mentioned mad-scramble (ball at midfield, each team in their own end zone, live ball).

7. Team Captains Rock-Paper-Scissors for the right to receive.

8. Team captains Reachambeau for the right to receive.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 9:38am


Was hoping to read discussion about new rule and pros and cons; instead, got rehash of what everyone else wants or thinks should be or should have been done.

NFL has made their decision, time to move on and analyze potential impact.

by nat :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 11:48am

Impact on play at the end of regulation: zero.

Impact on choice to kick or receive in OT: zero.

Impact on play calling for first two drives of OT: small but real, and generally towards more exciting plays.

Impact on play calling for later drives in OT: zero.

Impact on length of OT: one or more extra drives for OTs that start with a field goal.

Overall impact: a slight increase in average OT length, slightly more exciting OT play calling, and reduced whining about OT coin flips keeping one team's offense off the field.

Coin flips still have an influence on who wins the game, although slightly reduced. But so what? As long as the OT play is exciting and the eventual winner wins by making good plays, who cares? Both teams "deserve" to win. Both teams "deserve" to lose.

My opinion: this change wasn't necessary, but it doesn't do any harm, and probably makes OTs a little bit more suspenseful. All in all, this improves the NFL product slightly, both for the fans and for the advertisers.

by JonC :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 10:26am

I'm still shocked that when one of two basically equal teams gets a slight advantage from a random event, that team wins more often than not.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:50pm

How is 65/35 a "slight" advantage?

by Dennis :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 5:42pm

No kidding. The numbers I saw are 60/40, but either way, if you can win that often in Vegas, you're a millionaire.

by andrew :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 10:41am

How are we going to address the issue of coin tosses in breaking ties in the draft order?

by Eddo :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 11:15am

Breath-holding contests.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 12:19pm

Or playoff bearths. I think its like the seventh or eighth tiebreaker. I'm pretty sure its never happened, but that has to stop.

by Temo :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:19pm

I've seen people say "Birth" instead of the correct "Berth" here, but this is the first time I've seen "Bearth". It sounds like a character from Beowulf ("All hail Thane Bearth!")

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 1:41pm

You got me. I thought that looked wrong when I typed it. At least it was closer than saying Births.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 2:00pm

A Bearth is part Bear part hearth. You can light a fire in it but it might get very angry and maul you.

by dryheat :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 2:27pm

I thought it was Bear + Wraith. Scary stuff.

by Master strategist (not verified) :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 2:27pm

What happens if the receiving team in overtime kicks the field goal.

Then kicks a surprise onsides kick and recovers? Do they win and is the game over?

With onsides recovery percentages when unexpected around 50 percent or more, wouldn't it make sense for a stout redzone defensive team such as Baltimore to go for the onsides in a situation such as this?


by Eddo :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 2:34pm

One explanation I read suggested that succeeding with an onside kick to start overtime would mean that you could kick a field goal on the first drive and end the game, so I imagine that in your scenario, the game would be over.

If that is the case, this rule is much better than the old rule, if only because it opens the door to many more different strategies. Onside kicks are now an option with less downside.

by Marko :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 2:52pm

Yes, the game would be over. But if the defense is so good, why not just kick off and play defense? If you onside kick and don't recover the ball, the other team is already close to field goal range. If you kick it deep (assuming you don't give up a very long return), the other team will have to deal with a much longer field against your good defense.

by andrew :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 3:54pm

Team A vs Team B. goes to overtime, Team A wins toss.

1. Team A receives kick and runs it back across midfield, to around the Team B 20 yard line, where they fumble, team B picks up fumble and starts running the other way, but then fumbles and team A recovers. Team A kicks field goal. Is the game over?

2. Team A kicks off, ball lands about a foot from the sideline at the 5. Team B receiver assumes ball is going out of bounds and stays away, but it somehow dies right there on a mud puddle and Team B recovers, and kicks field goal. Is the game over? I ask this because they've said that onside kick counts as both teams having had a chance, but here there was no onside kick.

3. Team A receives, drives down and kicks field goal. Team B then drives to midfield, where, on 3rd and 10, the Team B QB throws a long pass towards the end zone. Team A DB intercepts near the goal line, but foolishly tries to run it back. After weaving around a bit, the team A DB fumbles around the 20, and the ball is recovered there by team B. At this point team A is up by 3, and both teams have had the ball. Is the game over?

4. If the answer to #3 is yes, then same scenario as #3, but it turns out that on the play that team B threw the interception, team A was offsides. In theory the game cannot end on a defensive penalty. So would team B be facing the choice of accepting the penalty and their ball at the team A 45, 4th and 5, or first down at the team A 20, but the game over?

5. Teams play an entire overtime without scoring. Since this is the playoffs, another overtime ensues. Team A wins the coin toss before overtime #2, runs the kick back to their 39, gets an pass interference penalty to the team B 35, then kick a long FG. Team B's offense never touched the ball in overtime #2. Is the game over?

by Eddo :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 4:15pm

My interpretation:

1. This counts as each team having a possession, so yes, the game would be over.

2. (I assume you mean "Team A (the kicking team) recovers" on the Team B five-yard-line.) This is, essentially, just a really freaky-looking onside kick, so the game would be over.

3. This is a good question. Would it be like a two-point attempt, where the play is dead as soon as a defender possesses the ball? If so, the game would be over.

4. Accepting the penalty would make it third-and-five at Team A's 45-yard-line, so Team B's choice is now (i) third-and-five or (ii) game over. I think it's pretty obvious they'd go with choice (i). And even if it was fourth-and-five, why would Team B choose for the game to be over?

5. Up until now, in the playoffs, if the first overtime period ended in a tie, I believe they just continued the action instead of kicking off. If the second overtime period ended in a tie, the third period began with a kickoff (like halftime). So in the second overtime period, any score wins. The third overtime period is different, but I imagine it would still be sudden death from the start, as each team has had multiple possessions since regulation ended.

by Marko :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 5:53pm

1. Yes, the game is over.

2. Yes, the game is over. (Like Eddo, I am assuming you meant that Team A recovered the kickoff.) Don't get hung up on whether it is an onside kick or not. This is functionally the same as a fumble on the kickoff return recovered by the kicking team. Whether it was an onside kick, a pooch kick, a squib kick, etc., doesn't matter. If the kicking team ends up with possession after the opening kickoff, the next score wins the game.

3. Yes, the game is over. But if Team B recovers the fumble by Team A and returns it for a touchdown, Team B wins by three points. Florio addressed these scenarios at PFT.

4. As Eddo said, that' not much of a choice for Team B. 3rd and 5 for Team B OR game over and Team B loses? Let me think for a second what Team B would choose . . . .

5. In the playoffs, the first overtime period is technically the first quarter of a new game. So what Eddo said is correct.

by tuluse :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 7:51pm

4. As Eddo said, that' not much of a choice for Team B. 3rd and 5 for Team B OR game over and Team B loses? Let me think for a second what Team B would choose . . . .

Even if the game was tied, so it wouldn't end on the pick, why would a team decline a penalty when they just turned it over?

by Marko :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 9:21pm

There could be a situation where a team would decline the penalty if tied and if (as in the above hypothetical) the penalty would not result in a first down. It would probably have to be 3rd and forever and the pick would have to take place deep in the defensive team's territory. For example, if it were third and 35 (maybe as a result of sacks, holding penalties and/or penalties for 12 men in the huddle (hello, Vikings!)) at the offensive team's 40 yard line, the QB throws a long pass that is picked off and the DB goes out of bounds or is tackled inside the 5 yard line. That would be the classic "it's just as good as a punt" interception. I suppose some teams would rather keep the ball at the 45 yard line and try to get about 25 yards on third down to set up a field goal (and then settle for a punt if unsuccessful on third down), but I would rather pin the opposing team deep in its own territory.

Obviously, this would be a very unusual situation.

by Eddo :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 8:20pm

3. So for this scenario, play continues until a dead ball?

by Marko :: Wed, 03/24/2010 - 9:02pm


by turbohappy (not verified) :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 10:33am

They should just go to the shootout format, it seems well-received and pretty timely. Each time kicks field goals from the 40 until one makes and the other misses. And you can't use the same person twice.

by Phil Osopher :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 8:13pm


I can't wait for the combine to add in 57 yard field goal kicking, especially the o and d-linemen

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”
-Albert Einstein

by General Curmudgeon (not verified) :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 8:30pm

Let's see. This story is cited by a website that touts itself as providing analysis and statistical grounding. And, in this case, provides neither (although, I suppose, disclosing the results of the voting is, technically, a statistic).

If this site were what it pretends to be, there would not simply be a link to the article (a service which can be provided by a somewhat sophisticated 12-year-old), but also an actual statistical analysis of the appropriateness of the rule. Such an analysis would look at:

1. Percentage of drives beginning with a kickoff and ending with a made field goal.
2. Percentage of drives beginning with a kickoff and ending with a touchdown.
3. Percentage of drives beginning with a kickoff and ending with a change of possession, followed by the opposing team scoring.

There are other factors to consider, of course, but this would be the obvious beginning. Or they could simply mail it in.

by RaxGrissman :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 11:22pm

It is more complex than that, without a doubt, so I'd hold on for an analysis. There's a lot of stuff to consider.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 2:55am

Good lord you have high expectations.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 10:26pm

anybody want to expalin auction to me? asked for expalanation other day never got one

if can't go up and see other post or if too lazy to scorll here is what wrote other day-
well first ofof J Fisher and R mckay alreayd explained teams want kickoffs to stay same. teams like cleve bowns shell out good moeny for kickoff weaponry. if cant use one of best weapons in overtime, then that is crappy thing

also just seems relaly silly like bush league rule. doesn't seem like good profesioanl rule. blind bid or open? if blind bid, ok one team choose to start at 16. other team want start at 14. so team that choose 14 win and get to get ball first. beecuase both teams pick difenert yard line then decision made. what if both chose to start at 16 yard line? now is coin flipped?

if not blind bid then who decides whcih team gets to bid first? if chagers play texams wild card gam and chargers pick 17 yard line then texams going to pick 16 yard lien.

by MTR (not verified) :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 3:05pm

The idea, as I understand it, was for an open bid with a number of rounds. So, it would be something like this: The ref calls both head coaches to the center of the field.
Coach A: "We'll start on our own 20 yard line"
Coach B: "We'll start on our own 18 yard line"
Coach A: "Our 15"
Coach B: "Our 12"
Coach A: "Our 10"
Coach B: "Ok, you take it. We'll defend that goal"

I think it would be amusing, but never happen. The benefits are the lack of a coin toss, so there's no luck involved, and making it a genuine choice. The Ravens and the Colts, for instance, would be willing to have very different start lines. The downside would be no more kickoff and confusing the heck out of everybody. It would also spawn a thousand talk radio calls; it's up to you if that's good or bad.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 8:12am

Do you think we'll begin to see teams winning the coin toss elect to kickoff at the start of overtime? There's the risk of giving up the TD so it might only be those with stronger defenses ...

(I seem to recall the Lions elected to kickoff in OT circa 2006 - hmmmm).

by Marko :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 12:27pm

I wouldn't be surprised to see that.

As for the Lions, that game was in 2002. Technically, they didn't elect to kickoff. They chose to defend a certain end zone because of the wind. The Bears then chose to receive and promptly won the game on a field goal on the first possession of OT.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 12:36pm

Ah ... time flies when you're losing!

Just read that Rex Ryan has said he'll be kicking off when he nexts get to OT. Mentioned that having the best scoring defense in the league gives him a certain level of comfort.

by MJK :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 1:24pm

Possibly, but it would have to depend pretty strongly on the particular matchup. The one scenario I could see electing to kick off is if you have a very strong offense relative to the other team's defense (so a TD is probable when you get the ball), and a poor overall defense but a pretty good red zone defense, and if the wind was really swirling so that one end was favored.

In any other situation, I think that there is still an advantage to getting the ball first. Yes, on the subsequent drive, the other team knows what they need to win, but assuming teams with equal skills, you each have the same probability of scoring the same amount of points on your first possession, and if you do, it reverts to sudden death and the team that received will have the advantage.

Some other website did a pretty detailed probabilistic analysis that shows exactly that. Assuming no wind factor, they showed that you would have to have an insanely higher probability of scoring a TD in 4-down scenarios relative to standard 3-down scenarios for it to make sense to elect to kick off. Even in the scenario I described above, without the wind, it's still in your advantage to receive.

But it does shift the advantage closer to 50-50%, so it could make scenarios like windy ones more attractive to kick off.

by RaxGrissman :: Fri, 03/26/2010 - 3:39pm

Hmmm, I haven't considered that. But you're right it probably would happen, especially with great defenses like the Jets. That makes things more interesting for sure.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sat, 03/27/2010 - 9:01am

I think it'll be interesting to see whether overtimes that finish due to say a 4th&12 incompletion on the reply possession will be deemed as exciting as the walk-off scores.

I have a strong suspicion the TV companies will be complaining that they no longer have replays of a long touchdown or game-winning field goal to entice viewers to the postmatch.

It might be interesting for the novelty value in the first 2-3 years but perhaps not so far down the road.

by tuluse :: Sat, 03/27/2010 - 9:22pm

Well this is only for the playoffs for the time being.

by RaxGrissman :: Sun, 03/28/2010 - 3:39am

I don't see why it wouldn't be exciting. It's basically the end of the fourth quarter, where you have to respond to win, or fail and lose. What's unexciting about that?

There's still going to be a winning play... what's not exciting about 4th and 12 when the game is on the line?

by RaxGrissman :: Sun, 03/28/2010 - 3:40am

my bad, double post