New overtime rule could let receiving team win with just a field goal

AP

When the NFL changed its overtime rule in 2012, it was supposed to guarantee both teams the ball, unless the team that received the overtime kickoff scored a touchdown on its first possession. But as the NFL prepares to change its overtime rule again, that “guarantee” is no longer so solid.

The league is expected this week to shorten overtime from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. That means that if the team that receives the opening kickoff marches into field goal range on a long, sustained drive, it could just try to run out the clock until there’s a second or two left in the game, send out the field goal team and win the game with a kickoff at the end of a 10-minute opening possession.

Granted, 10-minute possessions are rare, but they’re not unheard of: According to Pro Football Reference, since 1999 there have been 29 possessions that took 10 or more minutes off the clock and ended in a field goal. An additional seven possessions that took 10 or more minutes off the clock ended in a missed field goal.

There’s never been a 15-minute possession (the longest drive of any kind in the Pro Football Reference database lasted 12:29), so this wasn’t a concern with the longer, 15-minute overtime. But with a 10-minute overtime, it’s a real possibility that a receiving team could win with a field goal, and the kicking team never gets the ball.

95 responses to “New overtime rule could let receiving team win with just a field goal

  1. Seems more likely that the team would shoot for a more reasonable 7ish minute drive and try to force the other team to quickly work their way down field, increasing the chances that the 2nd team to have possession makes a critical, game ending mistake.

  2. This would have to be coached absolutely perfectly to work, and the opposing defense would have to let them do it, too. This would be very, very tremendously rare, but I’d love to see a coach be smart enough to pull it off.

  3. I don’t like the idea of reducing the OT period to 10 minutes. No other professional league changes their OT period to less time. But if they want to reduce the period to 10 minutes, then go back to the first score wins the game.

  4. This would have to be coached absolutely perfectly to work, and the opposing defense would have to let them do it, too. This would be very, very tremendously rare, but I’d love to see a coach be smart enough to pull it off.

    _______________________________________

    You dont even need a 10 minute drive. The 10 minute drive just ends it without any hope for the other team. 9 minutes takes the option of running completely away from the opposing team and likely forces them to play without timeouts. If you can last 8 minutes you take away the run but leave the timeouts and force them to score in the 2 minute offense

    I think this is an idiotic rule change. Each team should be guaranteed at least 1 possession.

  5. Granted, 10-minute possessions are rare, but they’re not unheard of: According to Pro Football Reference, since 1999 there have been 29 possessions that took 10 or more minutes off the clock and ended in a field goal. An additional seven possessions that took 10 or more minutes off the clock ended in a missed field goal.
    ______________________

    How many of these drives took place with around 10 minutes left in the half – or end of the game?

    The defense will call TO’s and force the offense into making even more plays to make this happen. You can’t just cherry pick a stat and apply it to a situation where the teams would obviously act differently under the circumstances.

  6. It’s overtime. You had 4 quarters to outscore the other team. A field goal is fine.

  7. I don’t respect any sport that doesn’t give both teams equal attempts at victory.

  8. I’m still waiting for someone to explain why the NFL doesn’t just let the game end in a tie during the regular season.

  9. How many of those drives were run in the 4th quarter when the clock is stopped for going out of bounds (last 5 minutes), there’s a 2 minute warning and teams are most likely to use timeouts?

    A 10 minute drive to in the 1st/3rd quarter is very different from one in the 4th quarter.

  10. ajg314 says:
    May 22, 2017 8:59 AM
    I don’t like the idea of reducing the OT period to 10 minutes. No other professional league changes their OT period to less time.

    *************
    Hockey?
    Basketball?

  11. Granted, 10-minute possessions are rare, but they’re not unheard of: According to Pro Football Reference, since 1999 there have been 29 possessions that took 10 or more minutes off the clock and ended in a field goal. An additional seven possessions that took 10 or more min.

    Wow, 29 in 17 years…nothing to see here, move along.

  12. Thank God the league never asks their fans what they think, that would be insane.

    SMH.

  13. TD rule is fine. Did anyone want to see the Falcons barf all over the end of SB 51 with a depressing, backwards marching four and out while Arthur Blank stared into space like a shipwreck survivor? No.

  14. like walker1191 says: I’m still waiting for someone to explain why the NFL doesn’t just let the game end in a tie during the regular season…
    I’m old, maybe confused, but what exactly is so wrong about a tie?

  15. ajg314 says:
    May 22, 2017 8:59 AM
    No other professional league changes their OT period to less time.
    ————————————–
    The NHL only plays 5 minutes in the regular season.
    The NBA only plays 5 minutes.
    Baseball would be the only sport that plays a “full period” of “overtime” to decide games if the NFL approves the 10 minute period.

  16. Good. Play defense if you don’t get the ball. Life isn’t fair. One of these days, everyone will wake up to that fact.

  17. So it’s back to “sudden death” OT?

    You want to fix OT? Just do this; In OT no punts or PATs are allowed, and sudden death scoring rules apply. ***fixed**

  18. An even better OT fix is to get rid of OT and let the game end in a tie, which they can still do after OT…

    [The League]: “Well, we want to improve the won/loss numbers so we’ll let these two battle for a capriciously decided term of minutes that guarantees all of our fans are dissatisfied.”

  19. “I don’t like the idea of reducing the OT period to 10 minutes. No other professional league changes their OT period to less time. But if they want to reduce the period to 10 minutes, then go back to the first score wins the game.”

    Literally every sport plays an “overtime” shorter than the normal period.

    Baseball doesn’t play 9 innings after the 9th, in theory it’s one inning.

    Hockey 5 minutes
    NBA 5 minutes
    Soccer 15 minutes x 2.

  20. My primary issue with this is that the impetus is to make sure games finish within the TV window, not for any competitive or player safety reason.

  21. About 24 years ago when my good friends & I started a FF league it was great….BUT EVERY YEAR people wanted to TWEEK the rules…after 5 or 6 years of this, half the owners left because of the incesent rule changes. This is what the NFL has become.

  22. Go back to first score wins. Eliminate the coin flip. Whoever has the ball at the end of regulation kicks off to start overtime. This will give incentive to win in regulation than playing for the tie. The new time of ot won’t matter. Just win, Baby!

  23. Such a small percentage of games go to OT it’s silly to mess with the time-length. The constant stoppages and delays during regulation time have fans fed up LONG before OT ever rolls around.

  24. But it’s still not “ending on a field goal”. It’s ending at the expiration of the clock. The field goal is just what heppened at the end. Just like what could happen at the end of regulation.

  25. With the skills and range of NFL kickers today, a 50 yard field goal is almost a gimme. So the necessity to drive the length of the field just to risk a turnover is vastly reduced. Two or three first downs can get you into field goal range. That reduces the likelihood of time-consuming drives that would deny a team possession of the ball.

  26. ajg314 says:
    May 22, 2017 8:59 AM
    I don’t like the idea of reducing the OT period to 10 minutes. No other professional league changes their OT period to less time. But if they want to reduce the period to 10 minutes, then go back to the first score wins the game.

    I agree with you in principle, but no other league has the same F=M*A quotient of the NFL. Not even hockey since their players dont have the mass and the collisions tend to occur at lower acceleration.

    However all that said, ties aren’t fun. It’s like wasting three and a half hours.

  27. Why not flip the coin and the losing team buys the entire stadium a Budweiser? There’s a new overtime rule for you, Roger.

  28. Obviously the NFL doesn’t want games to end in a tie. I get that, I don’t either. So in the interest of player safety, line the kickers up and let them kick FG’s. Back them up and switch endzones with each kick. Let them kick until somebody misses or gets blocked.
    And as an added bonus for the NFL, they more time for TV commercials.

  29. “But with a 10-minute overtime, it’s a real possibility that a receiving team could win with a field goal, and the kicking team never gets the ball.”

    It’s not a “real” possibility. It’s extremely rare. So your argument does nothing to further your penalty kick proposal.

  30. Skip overtime altogether, just have a NHL style shootout with the kickers. Setup @ 45 or 50 yard field goals with no defense, just the kicker and the goal post. Best of five wins, if they tie, it’s a tie. Little added injury risk, no stupid unfair possession advantages, no prolonged game that still goes to a tie. No not seeing the end of a game because it gets pre-empted on TV.

    Solved, and bonus, maybe kickers matter… or to be fair kickers matter more.

  31. I dont understand the never ending desire to shorten games? The rules used to be if you ran out of the bounds, the clock stopped. Sure the games were longer but who were the losers? Wasnt me. I was into the game and that was football as we knew it. These days, when my team is behind, i think “if they only had more time like back in the day”. Quite changing the rules for a select few complainers. The league doesnt lose from longer games. Its more adverstising. More advertising means the sponsors dont lose either. And I dont mind the games being longer..Hell, Id prefer them to be longer. Leave things alone!! Dont make this NASCAR

  32. I never had a problem with the original “sudden death” rule. The game is not decided by a coin flip – it is decided by a team’s inability to stop the opposing offense from driving 40 to 50 yards to get off a decent FG try. Lose the toss? Get a stop.

  33. Not sure why everyone is mad about this… If OT isn’t won in the first couple possessions it typically drags out into some ugly football with a bunch of fatigue’d players

  34. The lack of common sense from the owners and the league on this is astounding. The result is more tie ball games and even more complaints about the lack of fairness to the team that looses the coin toss for OT.

    Honestly, I’m starting to wonder if this isn’t part of a plan to move to a college style OT, which would be the worst idea of all. The college OT format completely removes the concept of field position, which means it isn’t real football anymore.

    While I never had a problem with the original OT format of sudden death, reducing the OT period to ten minutes while at the same time only enacting sudden death if the first possession team scores a TD is another VERY bad idea.

    And using the excuse of “player safety” to make this change is horse hockey for a league that continues to force every one of its teams to play on four days rest (Thursday night) for the sole purpose of promoting the NFL Network.

  35. jasonandrew76 says:
    May 22, 2017 10:53 AM
    I dont understand the never ending desire to shorten games?
    ***************************************
    Jason, The NFL is under pressure from the TV networks to shorten games. Considering the fact that the TV contracts are the main source of money, they have the NFL in their back pockets.
    They could make the NFL do almost anything they want.

  36. You need to work on your maths.

    29 drives over 17 seasons comes out to 1.7 drives per year. There are an average of 6,144 possessions per season (24 possessions x 256 regular season games). That means there is an average of one drive over 10 minutes out of every 3,614 possessions.

    Although I guess something that happens .0002% of the time is technically a “real possibility” I don’t think it’s something you want to be making rules decisions on.

  37. Andy Reid had a fool proof plan to have eat 11 minutes of the clock and kick a game winning field goal while trailing by two.

    Sadly, there was only 1:57 left in the game so it never came to be…

  38. Yeah, because lots of 10 minute drives end in field goals! In the rare instance it happens, the team starting on defense had more than ample chance to stop the other team. This is definitely a non-story and a non-issue.

  39. TheVikingsHaveHowManySBTrophys? says:
    May 22, 2017 11:42 AM
    jasonandrew76 says:
    May 22, 2017 10:53 AM
    I dont understand the never ending desire to shorten games?
    ***************************************
    Jason, The NFL is under pressure from the TV networks to shorten games. Considering the fact that the TV contracts are the main source of money, they have the NFL in their back pockets.
    They could make the NFL do almost anything they want.
    ——————————————————————
    So shortening an OT game from 15 to 10 minutes does this? How often does an OT game reach the 10 minute mark each season? Two or three at the most. If the networks are concerned about the length of games how about no commercials after a TD and then after the kickoff too. That will save a hell of a lot more time than this silly OT rule will.

  40. In regular season for tie at end of regulation, play two 5 minute OT periods. Each team recieving once and switching ends for wind and field conditions. If after both OT periods the game is still tied, its a tie. In playoffs and superbowl, If after both OT periods there is still a tie, teams alternate plays from 2 yard line at the same end of the field. Teams can kick field goal, fake or go for a TD scoring 3 or 6 points. Teams alternate attempts until tie is broken.

  41. Lori M says:
    May 22, 2017 10:24 AM
    Go back to first score wins. Eliminate the coin flip. Whoever has the ball at the end of regulation kicks off to start overtime.

    ——–

    The “hot potato” at the end of regulation would be hilarious.

  42. It’s hard to believe an extra 5 minutes of football really led to any further injury risks. So, the league is full of it. All this does is create a few more ties for no good reason. It’s really that simple and we don’t need any contrived rules such as making it a battle of two point conversions if games end in ties. Play by the current rules up until 15 minutes.

  43. Sometimes I think you people live to find fault with
    everything everyone else does. The term backseat driver does not do you justice.

    I do not believe there has ever been a rule in any sport that is absolutely, 100% immune to any and all potential “problems.”

  44. so with reducing the playing time to 10 minutes, does that mean we get an extra 5 minutes of commercials in OT?

  45. Just abolish overtime.

    Easy fix.

    1 point for a regular XP.
    2 points for a TD conversion by run or pass
    3 points for a FG from the 35 or nearer
    4 points for a FG from behind the 35
    5 points for a safety
    6 points for a TD
    7 points for a TD scored from your own half.

    This points system would make OT less likely; but in the event of a tie with 00:01 on the clock, the road team gets the first shot at a sudden death XP. This would put the emphasis on the home team to get the game won early…….

  46. I’m so old I remember watching the longest game EVER on Christmas day. It was 1971 and the Miami Dolphins vs Kansas City Chiefs played two OTs. It WAS GREAT!! I still remember both Garo & Jan missing FG’s until Garo ended it finally. I watch games now and it seems to take TWICE as long for a game to be fully played because of all the commercials. Just cut some commercials & you won’t have to keep fiddling with the OT rules.

  47. So only 36 drives lasted 10+ minutes in 18 seasons? That’s an average of 2 per year. Now how many of those came in overtime? This just isn’t going to happen often enough for it to be a problem. Maybe once every few years.

  48. Teams receiving the coin flip would have a massive advantage….

    The “study” is stupid… Because it wasn’t taken in the same context. 10 minutes is very easy to burn if that is what you want to do, and ALL teams will want to kill as much time with sustained drives when winning the coin toss.

    Sure, not many 10 minute drives in the study..
    But how many 8.5 to 9 minutes drives ???

  49. My idea. The last two minutes of the half are the most exciting. Give each team one offensive possession and put 2 minutes on the clock for each team’s possession. They would start from the 50 yard line, or pick a different spot. After each team possesses the ball once, then the score is final. If you wanted to keep going for multiple possessions, you could but because of player safety I could see the NFL wanting to end it at one or maybe two possessions per team. This would result in a shorter, but more exciting overtime. You could still have ties but this accomplishes the goal of shortening the quarter while retaining the excitement that there should be at the end of the game.

  50. So, in 17 seasons, which would be 4,352 games, or 17,408 quarters of action, there have been 29 such drives. So, using that logic, in 1 out of every 600 OT games, you could possibly see such a drive. And, that doesn’t take into account that drive lasting over 10 minutes may not have ended in a score if there is only 10 minutes, so the likelihood may be even less.

    So sure, it’s a “real possibility” this could come up and be an issue. Quit beating this dead issue.

  51. This honestly makes no sense. As is it’s still pretty rare to have a game that goes into OT end in a tie, how much of a difference are we really making by taking 5 minutes off the clock? If the idea is to make it more exciting this will do the exact opposite because now instead of the receiving team going all out for a touchdown to end the game they are going to do just as you suggested and try to milk the clock on a long and sustained drive. Just leave the game alone already.

  52. cakesw says:
    May 22, 2017 1:37 PM

    10 minutes is very easy to burn if that is what you want to do, and ALL teams will want to kill as much time with sustained drives when winning the coin toss.
    ========================

    The only time ten minutes is very easy to burn is when the opposing team is content to let you do it. Usually that means you are down more than one score which can’t happen in OT.

  53. “But with a 10-minute overtime, it’s a real possibility that a receiving team could win with a field goal, and the kicking team never gets the ball.”

    Given that out of literally thousands of possessions in the timeframe you mention this only happened 29 times, no it is not “a real possibility” that this could happen.

    Statistical analysis is more accurate than imagined media worries.

  54. Complaints about excessive commercials and other TV coverage issues are illogical. You could not see the games without the television coverage. Television coverage cannot exist without sponsors paying for commercials.

    Thus, if you’re complaining about something regarding television coverage, you’re actually complaining against your best interests. Enjoy the game as presented.

  55. Simple fix. In the regular season the game ends at 60 minutes and the score is the score. In the postseason it’s 10 minute periods until there’s a winner with no sudden death.

  56. College rule is terrible and is the exact OPPOSITE of what they want (a fixed length of game for TV).

    Go back to sudden death. Home team gets choice by virtue of being home. Will make road teams play for win in regulation, thereby lessening the frequency of OT games. There. Problem solved.

  57. flaccoishermanmunster says:
    May 22, 2017 12:17 PM
    Ties are ridiculous. Almost as if they were just invented by the participation trophy generation. Cant believe we still have ties.
    =========

    Please tell me you’re joking. There are far less ties now in Pro sports overall than there was 30-35 years ago. In hockey, there was no overtime AT ALL until 1983 and even then it was only 5 minutes. Most teams would have a dozen or more ties on their record every season. It wasn’t until 2006 that they instituted the shoot out, which is ridiculous.

  58. “it could just try to run out the clock until there’s a second or two left in the game, send out the field goal team and win the game with a kickoff”

    This happens on a pretty much weekly basis now, with teams doing this to win the game at the end of the 4th quarter.

    If it’s okay to win a game this way in regulation, it’s hard to feel too bad about it in overtime.

    My feeling about overtime is that it SHOULDN’T be too fair. At some level, it should be a sort of punishment for not winning the game outright.

  59. Your source data you link to shows 105,068 drives – and by citing it you are presuming an avg drive is representative of OT drive lengths – the chances are, historically, 0.034%.

    The same data shows a total of 284 OT games over the 17 seasons = 16.7 OT games /yr

    Personally, my threshold for “real possibility” is a little less than once every 176 years.

    (1/(16.7X.00034))

  60. Keep it 15 minutes. Each team gets a possession. If its still tied after that, then its sudden death.

  61. I’ve been back and forth on this issue, but I’m finally settling here:

    Go back to sudden death. No “give both sides the ball” BS.

    Last time I checked, defense is a part of the game right? Whether you lose in the last two minutes of regulation or the first two minutes of overtime because your defense failed, what’s the problem?

    Your defense failed – you deserve to lose. Deal with it.

  62. kevpft says:

    My feeling about overtime is that it SHOULDN’T be too fair. At some level, it should be a sort of punishment for not winning the game outright.

    —————————

    A punishment for who? Both teams failed to win in regulation.

  63. Game length is no problem for me. Usually I’m only looking forward to 1-2 games each week, and I’ve waited for them all week, and I’ve got the time free to enjoy them. 4 hour game wouldn’t bother me, IF it was good football.

    OT is what it is. It will never be perfect, never satisfy everyone. The only logical thing to do is to settle on something then stop tinkering with it. Once we get used to it, we just accept it and live our lives without even considering a different OT.

  64. DitkasHair says:
    May 22, 2017 1:12 PM
    I call BS …. Roger is as dumb as a rock.

    ——-
    That rocks attorneys will be getting in touch shortly.

  65. I always felt like if you can’t stop a team from getting 30-40 yd and a long FG you don’t deserve the ball and a chance to win. I certainly don’t think if you cant stop a 70-80 yd 10 min drive with a short FG you don’t the ball and a chance to win.

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