Competition Committee will propose "modified sudden death" for overtime

As expected, the NFL’s Competition Committee will propose at next week’s league meetings (which will be held not in Maui but at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando) a change to the overtime rules.

The new rule, as previously reported by many, will allow the team that receives the kickoff to start overtime to win the game only by scoring a touchdown.  At that point, the game would end without the other team getting the ball — and without an extra point being attempted.

If the team that receives the kickoff scores a field goal, the other team would then get the ball.  A field goal by the other team would then extend the game, making it truly sudden death.  Failure to score at all would end the game, as would a touchdown by the team that kicked off to start overtime.

Competition Committee co-chair Rich McKay explained that the impetus for the change comes from the fact that, with the movement of the kickoff from the 35 to the 30 in 1994, the rate of victory via first-drive field goal increased from 17.9 percent (from 1974 to 1993) to 26.2 percent (from 1994 through 2009).  He pointed out that the average field position for the team receiving the kickoff to start overtime moved from the 24-yard line in 1993 to the 29.3 in 1994.  Thereafter, the average field position has bounced around from year to year, but it has never been as low as 24.

McKay said that a two-possession proposal previously had been made by the Competition Committee, but that it obtained only 18 votes.  McKay added that there also was a prior attempt to move the kickoff point, presumably from the 30 back to the 35.  It also failed.

The “modified sudden death” rule, as McKay called it, would apply to the playoffs only — and it would be a permanent change.  This means that, if 24 votes are mustered next week to install the rule, 24 votes would be required in the future to erase it.

Though it remains to be seen whether the owners agree to the change, McKay said that, historically, players are fine with the current rule.  But McKay said that formal union approval has not been sought, and apparently won’t be sought, if the proposal prevails.  (This raises a potentially interesting labor law issue; does the extension of the game constitute the kind of change in working conditions that makes the proposal a mandatory subject for collective bargaining?  We’ll ask the union for its position on this.)

It remains unclear whether the owners will approve the measure.  McKay said he has no feel for whether 24 or more votes will be cast in favor of it.  But he said that the Competition Committee believed it was the right time to propose the change — possibly due to the outcome of the NFC title game, which the Saints won on a first-drive field goal.

We strongly believe that the current system must change.  Though we prefer a system that guarantees a possession for both teams even in the event of a touchdown, the proposed rule is far, far better than the current one.

58 responses to “Competition Committee will propose "modified sudden death" for overtime

  1. I agree that this is better than the current sudden death system, but why the hell would they only do it in the playoffs?
    If they’re looking to test drive these new rules, why do it when games count the most?
    OTOH, if they’re confident that this is a change for the better, why not use it all season?

  2. This is one of the dumbest proposals e-v-e-r!!! Both teams need the ball from the 35 or 40 yard line and try for the TD or FG. After both teams get a chance, coin flip for possession, the kick off would happen and then sudden death.
    This BS about if you score 6 you win, but if you score 3 you don’t is retarded!!
    Sudden death is horrible. College OT rules could take (and it does take) forever so it is not an option.
    Giving each team a chance no matter what is the ONLY option!!

  3. Yet, Another “Boo Hoo My Vikings didn’t get to touch the ball in Overtime” post from Florio. Weird, the sky is BLUE.

  4. dumb dumb dumb dumb and dumb
    there is nothing wrong with the current overtime rules
    life isn’t fair and neither is football
    if Brett favre didn’t get to touch the ball in OT, too freakin bad
    he had two of the best Dlineman (JAllen, Kevin Williams) on his team who should’ve stopped Drew Brees and they didn’t
    get over it

  5. Step in the right direction.
    As you pointed out, this would’ve extended the Saints game. (Which I’m glad it didn’t… screw you Brett).
    There’s nothing tougher to watch than your team crawling back into a game to reach overtime, and then kicking off, the other team having an OK return, running a few decent plays to get into FG range and kicking a FG to end the game (or your season).

  6. I agree… Any owner that fails to field a competitive team while touting a commitment to excellence should be subject to modified sudden death. Al Davis this mean you.

  7. And I thought they couldn’t make over time any worse then the current version. So now the opening coin flip will determine who gets the ball first and in over time? Wasn’t the whole idea not letting a coin flip determine the winner of the game.

  8. This is ridiculous, why are people making such a big deal of overtime, each team has 60 minutes to win
    Plus, the percentage of receiving the ball and scoring on the first drive is about 50%.
    Big deal N.O. won on the first drive, Arizona’s D stopped G.B. in the wildcard to win it.

  9. Abolsutely hate it…couple of problems..
    1. If its good enough for the playoffs, its good enough for the regular season. If you are going to change the rules, change them uniformily.
    2. The team who does not get the first possession has an inherent advantage (assuming the team who got the ball first doesnt score a TD). Think about the NFC title game. Say the Vikings get the ball back after the Saint’s FG, Brett Favre now knows that anyplace on the field is four down territory.
    Real easy solution. Leave the sudden death rules as is, but eliminate the coin toss and give the home team the ball first. Make first possession in OT an inherent benefit of “home field advantage”. In baseball, the home team has the benefit of being the last team to bat in extra innings. Its an inherent advantage of being at home.
    In the regular season, you have an equal number of home adn away games. In the playoffs, the home team earned the right to be the home team by virtue of a better regualr season. In the NFC title game, give the ball to the Saints because they earned the right to host that game. If the Vikings dont like it, win another game in the regular season…

  10. The main problem with the current rule is that there’s ZERO incentive to drive more than 40 yards and kick a field goal. Even though a field goal isn’t guaranteed, it still has better odds than going for a TD so again, there is ZERO reason to try for more. It’s the only time in football where a team is ENCOURAGED to kick a field goal instead of go for a touchdown. This change would re-establish that basic concept of football that a TD is better than a FG, and I would be satisfied with it.

  11. On first blush, this sounds like a good change, but I have one problem with it.
    If the receiving team goes down and gets a field goal, then the second team would then be getting the advantage of going for it on every fourth down, at least until they’re in field goal range.
    But all and all, I think that I like it.

  12. It’s good to see the NFL joining the 21st century…..I don’t care what team a person is a fan of, the OT rule needed to change. The NFL is the only major sport that allowed one team to win in OT without the other team even getting a chance.

  13. I think that sudden death is fine the way it is, however if the rule were to be changed, I believe my proposal would be more cut and dry. The first team to reach 6 points would be the winner. Basically, you would have to kick two field goals to win or you would just need to score one touchdown to win.

  14. I never had a problem with the overtime rules, but this sounds like a decent modification. I wouldn’t go any further than this. If you can’t prevent the other team from scoring a touchdown on their first possession, you don’t deserve to win.

  15. The proposed rule as described is a good one–where a TD is required to win the game, yet field goals still have a relevant place, too. Best of both (scoring) worlds.
    If the end result is MORE football for us fans to watch (while not changing the inherent competitive integrity/rules of the game), then it’s a good idea, in my book.
    Likewise, I don’t like the idea of simply REQUIRING both teams to get a possession, a la college. That seems artificial and contrived, and it goes against our gut appreciation of the game’s competitive integrity.
    As for the votes required–maybe McKay can offer one or two of the hold-out owners some sweetheart deals/kickbacks/bribes for their team and their team ONLY, in order to get the votes needed to make it pass.
    I mean, votes can just be bought and sold like any other commodity, right?
    I’m sure the owners won’t mind whoring themselves out to the highest bidder, regardless of what their constituents actually want.
    Isn’t that how these things work nowadays? 😉

  16. There should be NO CHANGE to the overtime rules.
    The goal of overtime should be to end the game …AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.
    If anything just make the team that scored last in regulation automatically kick off in overtime. This will give that team a real incentive to go for the win rather than the tie but – that said – 99.999% of the coaches will still choose to play for overtime so had bad or unfair is it really?
    Football is too brutal and violent to drag out an extra four and a half hours just to make sure that each offense gets 50 snaps from center or whatever.
    I would rather overtime literally be decided by a coin flip with no further play than to lengthen it.
    Just wait for the outcry that will come when more and more players start getting hurt in lengthy overtime play.

  17. Why not just let regular season games end in a tie and use this system (or whatever system you want) for the playoffs?

  18. “It’s the only time in football where a team is ENCOURAGED to kick a field goal instead of go for a touchdown.”
    Except of course at the end of regulation when you are down by 3 points or less.

  19. I like the OT rules the way they are. The college style is ridiculous. It takes the kicking game and defense out of the equation. Football has 3 teams…Offense, Defense, and Special.
    If you are going to change the rules, this should be the way to do it. But make it a uniform change. PreSeason, Regular Season, and Post Season should have the same rules.
    Nice Al Davis comment by the Phins fan a few posts back…

  20. A lot of what if’s here. Like what if a team records a safety on the first possessions, etc. I guess I would say first to 4 instead of first to 6. These rules are certaintly a step in the right direction – it adds another element into the game and creates some real overtime decisions. I’ve always thought it was slightly anti-climatic that a team recieved the ball, got into field goal range, and won the game.

  21. how about change the stupid coin flip aspect….WTF…a coin flip to decide who gets the ball…..what a joke

  22. It really isn’t a bad rule change at all…
    Think about it. If you win the toss you still TAKE the ball because you can win the came in 1 possession. I don’t know why everyone is like ‘omg like this means that the 2nd team has the advantage blah blah blah.” Stupid. If you win the toss you take the ball and you shove it down the other teams throat for 6. If you only make a field goal then your defense has to step up and make a play. It provides the fans with more football and no one can say ‘well my team didn’t get a chance waaaaahh.’ Both teams offenses and defenses get tested in this format..and it rules out the whole gain 30 yards to win the game thing that seems to happen constantly in NFL OTs.
    The only guff I have about it is what everyone else has already mentioned…why is it only for the playoffs? I guess the league thinks that players have a better chance of getting injured using this format in the regular season?

  23. Almost forgot:
    Do not think the rules of games in the playoffs should be any different than the regular season.
    In general: More football = BETTER.
    NOTHING should be done just because the poor wittle BiQueens and Bwetty didn’t get the ball in OT.
    Boo hoo, sniff sniff, blubber sob.
    While I like the proposal, if they just left everything the way it is now, I’d be fine with that, too.
    Despite all the namby-pamby rule changes being proposed, defense should still count for SOMETHING, right? Play both sides of the ball.
    Stop someone, dammit.

  24. Terrible. Stupid. Leave OT alone!
    If your D can’t stop the other team’s O from scoring, you deserve to lose the game. That’s the way it works during regulation OR in OT. Period. That’s why we keep track of those pesky numbers that they use for “scoring”.
    Please don’t do this, NFL. Freakin’ college overtime sucks…it’s like a tedious track meet that never ends. I turn off most college games that go to OT. Force both teams to have the ball in OT? Yet another example of justifying mediocrity.
    By the way, under the current NFL rules, your D can score on that first possession as well…

  25. Why not just have the first drive start from the 20-yard line rather than with a kickoff? That neutralizes the field position advantage but keeps the overtime rules simple.

  26. some of u seem to forget that Kickers and Field Goals are apart of the game…so sorry if u don’t like to see a man kick the ball for 30 or 40 yards but when its necessary to win a game that may be 12-14 and your team is losing and theres 4 seconds left on the clock, what are u going to wish that your team doesn’t kick and go for 6 instead?

  27. “We strongly believe that the current system must change. Though we prefer a system that guarantees a possession for both teams even in the event of a touchdown, the proposed rule is far, far better than the current one.”
    It’s amazing how long the system worked with as few actual complaints as there has been from a minority of people and they feel the need for a change. Florio is an ex lawyer- he loves rules and changing things.

  28. The real reason the NFL doesn’t want to change the OT rules is that the networks don’t want the games dragging into their Sunday night lineup of programs.
    As much as advertisers pay to run their products on Sunday afternoon, they pay even more for Sunday night primetime. Follow the money people.
    Oh, and what happens if the kicking team records a safety since technically they never had a possession?

  29. Think rules similar to college should be played out. Instead of getting it on the 25 yard line though, it should be a regular kickoff.
    So if a team gets the kick off, takes it to the house, that team will then kick off, providing the other team with a chance to tie. If they don’t, they lose, if they do, it starts again. Same for fieldgoals, team has to match or score or they lose.
    Maybe throw in something like after each team scores 2 TDs each, they have to go for two. Yes, all similar to college rules.
    As for the safety, if a team forces a safety, that team wins automatically.
    Or maybe even implement a whole other quarter, or half a quarter.
    As for the comment “Football is too brutal and violent to drag out an extra four and a half hours just to make sure that each offense gets 50 snaps from center or whatever. I would rather overtime literally be decided by a coin flip with no further play than to lengthen it”.
    Are you really a football fan?

  30. “If anything just make the team that scored last in regulation automatically kick off in overtime.”
    So what if the team that scored last happened to do it at the 3:00 remaining mark? That’d give the other team a huge competitive advantage in that they’d get a guaranteed two possessions in a row.

  31. As a major Vikings fans I have little to no complaints with the overtime rules. I see no problems with the way the rules are currently and see no reason to change them. Do I think we could have won with a chance with the ball again? Hell Yes! But I also think we would have won had AP held on to the ball on 1st and Goal at the 5 or some questionable calls in the overtim….never mind another story. My point is the only thing that I would be OK with is a change in the coin flip itself. Id be Ok with it being based on something that happens in the game, maybe like who has more yards or something. Then again it wouldn’t matter if they changed nothing. The rules are just football.

  32. This is not enough, but it’s a positive step.
    Modified sudden death should extend to all regular season games, and should not end on an opening-possession touchdown. The other team should have a chance to respond.

  33. BenRapistberger, there are plenty of times when a team is encouraged to go for a FG and not a touchdown. 4th down for one, or at the end of a game when 3 points will win it. Awesome handle.
    It’s first to 6, or it can end like a college game if one team scores 3 and then the other team turns the ball over without scoring. I’m not crazy about that. Why not just let the clock run out if one team goes up 3 and the other team can’t score?
    The Bears beat the Titans in overtime in 03 or 04 on an an Alex Brown safety and it was one of the most thrilling overtime endings I’ve ever seen (right behind Mike Brown’s back to back pick 6s).
    It kind of sucks that under this rule, you can score a field goal and a safety in OT and still lose if the other team scores a TD next. they should make it 4 points, not 6. Any team that gets 2 safeties in OT deserves a win.

  34. Why not reduce the overtime timing to say eight or ten minutes and play till that time expires?

  35. This is nuts. Take the following scenario: The receiving team (Team A) has driven to the 3 yard line of Team B. Team A has a fourth and goal at the 3 yard line. Team A would go for the TD rather than kick the field goal. First, Team A knows that if they kick the FG Team B will return a kickoff to the 29 yard line (average) with a chance for a short drive to kick a tieing FG. If Team A scores the TD the game is over. If Team A doesn’t get the TD they know that Team B gets the ball on their own 3 yard line and has to drive 60+ yards to kick a FG to win. BUT if Team A stops Team B somewhere inside the 20 they will get the ball right back again almost in FG range. Team B will also be forced to play more conservative from their own 3 yard line because they know they are now in sudden death and can’t risk a turnover like they might survive in a “real” game. Once Team A returns a punt they have a very short drive to kick a FG to win (since both teams have had a possesion). It could create all sorts of hard decisions on Tema A’s coach and/or causes Team B to be put in really “unfair” field position.
    This is a very bad resolution to a very real problem.

  36. The union would have no say in this, they are already required to play up to a full quarter after regulation if needed.

  37. It’s ridiculous, really.
    All people are really trying to accomplish here is something than will never come to fruition – somebody eventually has to lose.
    That’s the whole problem with this new rule because what ardent supporters argue is fairness, but really what they want is for both teams to win. As strange as that sounds, that’s basically what it boils down to.
    One of the reasons NFL football is so great is because it is full of suspense. Changing the overtime rule diminishes the suspense (at the expense of so-called “fairness”) and it is a blatant example of “tinkering” with a machine that “ain’t broke”. And, when a guy does that, he directly compromises the foundation the game was built upon.

  38. sluggerss says:
    Real easy solution. Leave the sudden death rules as is, but eliminate the coin toss and give the home team the ball first. Make first possession in OT an inherent benefit of “home field advantage”. In baseball, the home team has the benefit of being the last team to bat in extra innings. Its an inherent advantage of being at home.
    Love this idea. BEST idea ever mentioned on this topic. Takes away the “lost the game on a coin flip” argument. It is “fair” for the home team to get this advantage. The away team knows in advance that they will NOT get the ball first, so they may think twice before playing for OT. Instead of kicking that game tying extra point or FG, they may decide to go for two or first down.
    In fact, why not take this one step further and eliminate the coin flip at the beginning of the game too, just like baseball. They don’t flip a coin to decide who is first at bat. In this case, football should follow suit.
    Put it on the board. Sell this idea to the NFL Competition Committee.

  39. sluggers wrote:
    Real easy solution. Leave the sudden death rules as is, but eliminate the coin toss and give the home team the ball first. Make first possession in OT an inherent benefit of “home field advantage”.
    That’s a great idea.
    @Chicago Joe:
    If the team gets a safety in the opening possession, they would then get the ball on the free kick and the other defense would get a chance to get a safety or a defensive touchdown. Makes sense, right?

  40. Win in regulation or get what you get. Quit crying about “fairness.” Coin toss & sudden-death scoring: nothing could be more exciting.

  41. I’m for leaving the rules the same as they’ve been since the game was invented. For those that argue that each team is deserving of a “chance”, just refer to the Packers-Cardinals playoff game. What “chance” did the Cardinals have? Oh… their defense scored.
    If you insist on changing the rules, figure out some meaningful tiebreaker, rather than a coin flip, to determine who gets the ball first. I like turnovers, but that would often not be a solution (too much chance of being equal). So come up with something as a second (third, etc.) tiebreaker. Maybe there’s some other person that has a better idea on tiebreakers. Being the home team isn’t the worst idea either.

  42. Just leave it as is. The proposal is gay.
    ITS SUDDEN DEATH for a reason. Might as well give Lombari Trophies to every team at the end of the season just for playing.

  43. I like it and the kvetchers will learn to enjoy it as well. A touchdown is the right way to end an overtime. Even better: the “final possession” after a FG can be touchdown only – either win or lose. The less foolishness about falling down in the middle of the field, freezing the kicker, etc., the better.

  44. Some good incisive thoughts here.
    If a team scored safeties on the opponent’s first 2 possessions, they’d be up 4-0 in OT but not have won.
    If their opponent got the ball back and drove for a FG, they’d be behind 3-4 in OT (therefore behind on the scoreboard) but would have won with a lower score.
    The NFL would have to change the TD or FG to win rule.

  45. How about in baseball when it appears a pitcher purposely throws at a batter, the batter goes to second base and the runners move up accordingly?

  46. and once again, EGO prevails…
    College football got it right, but the NFL is too egomaniacal to accept that someone else has a better idea and they should implement it. Then again, I like the 20-yard deep endzones in the Canadian Football League, and multiple guys in motion. Something else that would add excitement to the game, which means the NFL will never incorporate it.
    You want FAIR, implement the college system, (TV networks will just have to get over it) but I like the idea someone else posted about starting from the 40 or even 50-yard line.

  47. In the regular season it should just be a tie w/ no overtime. They had 4 quartes to win.

  48. Horrible idea. Just make it a shortened “extra quarter” and let it play out till there is a winner. Still have a coin flip, but make it a 7min 30 second quarter, that way the game doesn’t take on the extended boredom of extra innings in baseball. Anything else would just be bastardizing the integrity of the game and cause more conflict.

  49. WOW, I want to see proof the NFL committee came up with this idea. I have my proof do they. I will take any test proving that this is my proposal. I sent it to Roger Gooddell, ESPN, and others way before it was ever discussed. Give credit where credit is due. BIG NFL FAN

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