The National Football League owners have approved a change in overtime, starting with the playoffs following the 2010 season, that will modify the sudden-death format and prevent a team from winning a game with a field goal on the opening possession.
The vote was 28-4, with the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals voting against. It needed at least 24 votes to pass.
“It was really a good discussion in the sense that there’s been a lot of debate, both publicly and privately, over the rule — which is always good,” Competition Committee co-chair Rich McKay said in announcing the vote. “We’ve had this discussion for a number of years. We felt like this proposal, which we call ‘modified sudden death,’ was really an opportunity to make what we think was a pretty good rule — sudden death — even better.”
McKay stressed that the new overtime rule, which says the team receiving the kickoff can’t end the game on the first possession unless it scores a touchdown, will apply only to the playoffs.
“Part of the reason we have different rules is we have different consequences,” McKay said. “The consequences in the postseason are, go home if you don’t win. In the regular season, we have 15 other games.”
It’s the first major change in playoff overtime rules in the NFL since “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” when the Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL Championship Game.