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NFL changes regular-season overtime to match postseason overtime

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

Starting in 2012, regular-season overtime will be the same as postseason overtime, and a field goal on the first possession does not end the game.

After seeing it work in overtime of the playoffs in January, the league’s owners voted to change overtime for the regular season as well. Now overtime is not purely sudden death, as the team that receives the overtime kickoff cannot win the game simply by kicking a field goal on its first possession.

As is the case in the playoffs, regular-season overtime will now end immediately if a team scores a touchdown or safety, but the game will not end if a field goal is scored on the opening possession. In those cases, the team kicking the field goal will then kick off, and the other team can either win the game by scoring a touchdown on the ensuing possession or extend the game by kicking a field goal. If that team doesn’t score, the team that kicked the field goal on the opening possession would win.

The reason for the modified approach is that in sudden-death overtime, winning the coin toss becomes a huge advantage, as the team that receives the kick knows it only has to drive into field-goal range to win the game. With the modified sudden-death format, the importance of the coin toss is lessened, and the team that wins the toss has a greater incentive to get more aggressive on offense and try to win the game with a touchdown. If the team that wins the toss kicks a field goal, that team then kicks off, and the other team has a chance to win the game with a touchdown, or to extend the game with a field goal, at which point the game would become pure sudden death, with the victory going to the next team that scores.

That’s how it worked in the playoffs last season, and that’s how it will work going forward in the regular season.

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37 Responses to “NFL changes regular-season overtime to match postseason overtime”
  1. iceshocker says: Mar 28, 2012 11:36 AM

    Good to see, I doubt anyone really has any good arguments against this.

  2. Broncofanatic7 says: Mar 28, 2012 11:36 AM

    Ha! Mcnabb confused face…

  3. skulman7 says: Mar 28, 2012 11:38 AM

    LOL @ the featured image for the article. Sneaky but hilarious (and I’m an Eagle fan)

  4. ninerdynasty says: Mar 28, 2012 11:38 AM

    I like this change!

  5. 49erstim says: Mar 28, 2012 11:38 AM

    I love the use of the McNabb pic. Nice! Lol

  6. the3taveren says: Mar 28, 2012 11:39 AM

    Like it!

  7. erod22 says: Mar 28, 2012 11:39 AM

    Thank you!

    As a season ticket holder, it’s painful to watch a referee walk 80 yards to get to the review screen, spend two minutes in there, then stroll back down to the other end, only to get it wrong much of the time anyway.

    GET IT OUT OF HOCCULI’S HANDS!

  8. thankheavenfornumberseven says: Mar 28, 2012 11:40 AM

    I hope the NCAA puts this rule in place for college football too, because that system is the worst.

  9. dwarftosser says: Mar 28, 2012 11:40 AM

    This sucks. They should have changed to playoffs back to match the regular season. There is nothing in sports that compares to the excitement of NFL sudden death overtime, and it sucks that they are trying to eliminate that.

  10. kobra71 says: Mar 28, 2012 11:42 AM

    I don’t like the change! Didn’t like it last year for the playoffs either. I prefer the old way. First team to score whether by a touchdown, Field goal or safety wins the game! If the other team did not get a chance to touch the ball; Too damn bad!

  11. dougydougdoug says: Mar 28, 2012 11:45 AM

    “Ha! Mcnabb confused face…” That is a redundant statement.

    Too bad it only took them forever to realize the old rule sucked.

  12. coreyg10 says: Mar 28, 2012 11:46 AM

    Sean Payton will have a year to sit and figure out how to cheat at this too!!!

  13. ajm323 says: Mar 28, 2012 11:46 AM

    I love how mcnabb is the poster boy for overtime rules changes. well deserved

  14. AlanSaysYo says: Mar 28, 2012 11:48 AM

    The coin toss was never a huge advantage. How many times has that been discussed in the last couple of years? Saying it was a big advantage after the fact doesn’t make it so.

    The new rules are too convoluted for their own good. They essentially prolong the start of sudden death, apparently because of a non-existent coin toss advantage, at the expense of the health of the players. More extra time played allows more time for injury, and a greater risk of injury. If the players are willing to take on that risk, a fixed extra period makes a lot more sense than the new rule. The rules for winning in overtime should be kept in line with the way the first 60 minutes of the game is played.

  15. postfixer says: Mar 28, 2012 11:49 AM

    Great, now we get gimmick overtime all year. I know I’m probably in the minority of people who liked sudden death, but either do sudden death, an abbreviated quarter, or something. This new overtime is just stupid.

  16. benihanagt says: Mar 28, 2012 11:51 AM

    So does this also mean no ties in regular season anymore?

    Or was that not a part of the regular season OT rules matching the Playoff OT rules?

  17. r97rrw says: Mar 28, 2012 11:52 AM

    Even if the winner of the coin toss only gets a field goal, it’s still a huge advantage. The other team is now forced into getting first downs or the game ends. The coin toss winner knows they can punt on their first possession and the game continues.

  18. whatnojets says: Mar 28, 2012 11:56 AM

    Nice picture of Mark Sanchez

  19. sportmentary says: Mar 28, 2012 11:57 AM

    This is a first good step but iIwould like to see a few changes. That will come in the future.

  20. 1nfam0us says: Mar 28, 2012 11:57 AM

    I definitely feel this is a step in the right direction. However, I would like to see them take the coin toss almost completely out of the equation, and use the system that the CFL and NCAA use; where each team gets a possession, and the second team gets the chance to match what the first team did. If there is no clear winner, go to 2OT etc.

    I just think this would make it fairer for the team who loses the toss.

  21. eyesofdisarray says: Mar 28, 2012 12:03 PM

    While I like the change, I hate the reasoning behind it.

    “The reason for the modified approach is that in sudden-death overtime, winning the coin toss becomes a huge advantage, as the team that receives the kick knows it only has to drive into field-goal range to win the game. ”

    If it were that easy to just drive into field goal range wouldn’t every team just do it on every series?

  22. coreyn23 says: Mar 28, 2012 12:11 PM

    Michael David Smith,

    You do realize you said basically the same thing in back to back paragraphs right? Were you just trying to lengthen the article?

  23. coreyn23 says: Mar 28, 2012 12:13 PM

    In those cases, the team kicking the field goal will then kick off, and the other team can either win the game by scoring a touchdown on the ensuing possession or extend the game by kicking a field goal

    If the team that wins the toss kicks a field goal, that team then kicks off, and the other team has a chance to win the game with a touchdown

  24. kane337 says: Mar 28, 2012 12:15 PM

    Excellent rule change. Finally they make the overtime fair for both teams.

  25. awhartstl says: Mar 28, 2012 12:15 PM

    This is still a terrible rule. It’s basically the NFL completely devaluing defense since Sudden Death has been taken away. Now instead of relying on your defense to do what they get paid for and get a stop in OT to get the ball back for your offense, the NFL has adopted what I consider a pee wee league rule so “everybody gets a chance”. Pathetic.

    The guys on D get paid too, let their jobs mean something.

  26. gdeli says: Mar 28, 2012 12:17 PM

    ridiculous! they are behind the time s on that, concussions and other things,

  27. brenenostler says: Mar 28, 2012 12:20 PM

    A Donovan McNabb confused picture in an Eagles uniform is the only thing that could have made the picture better.

  28. ibottpsgoldpants says: Mar 28, 2012 12:24 PM

    Once again the kicker is devalued. Somewhere in the world Mike Vanderjagt is crying.

  29. rajbais says: Mar 28, 2012 12:24 PM

    Take that Tebowmaniacs!!!!!!!

  30. boiler72 says: Mar 28, 2012 12:26 PM

    All of this, because that idiot Favre never got the ball back. Such a shame.

  31. briguy5 says: Mar 28, 2012 12:33 PM

    This is a problem that didn’t need to be fixed. Last year during the regular season teams winning the coin toss were 4-9, with only 2 of those 13 games resulting in a single possession FG. So could somebody please explain to me how winning the coin toss constitutes some sort of tremendous, unfair advantage?

  32. kidpresentable says: Mar 28, 2012 12:40 PM

    “It’s basically the NFL completely devaluing defense since Sudden Death has been taken away. Now instead of relying on your defense to do what they get paid for and get a stop in OT to get the ball back for your offense,”

    You have a point, but the NFL has so many rules set up to favor the offense, that it does give an unfair advantage to the winner of the coin toss. Even if statistically, it was pretty close to 50-50 as to whether or not the coin toss winner won on that first possession, failing to take advantage of a stacked deck does not render the deck any less stacked. If for example, they got rid of the spot foul pass interference call (in OT or overall), then things become a bit more fair.

  33. patriotinvasion says: Mar 28, 2012 12:53 PM

    I love it. No more cheapo Pass Interference calls that set up a team in FG range for an easy win. You want to win on the first drive? Go the length of the field and punch it in the end zone.

    It also sets up some interesting game ending scenarios where which a turnover ends the game after a made FG. Kick returners better hold on tight on ensuing kickoffs! The game will literally be in their hands.

  34. dieselfan44 says: Mar 28, 2012 12:57 PM

    Good decision…they get something right this off-season!

  35. ytsejamer1 says: Mar 28, 2012 2:20 PM

    60 Minutes fans are going to be pissed!!!

    Otherwise, works for me! Consistency is good. MLB could learn a thing or two.

  36. db105 says: Mar 28, 2012 2:38 PM

    This will create more tie games.

  37. doctorlb says: Mar 28, 2012 4:52 PM

    The rules for winning in overtime should be kept in line with the way the first 60 minutes of the game is played.
    The only way to do that is set a specific time period and use the score at that time. That’s another bad idea.
    The college approach is reasonable or the NFL could disallow field goals altogether in overtime.

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