NFL may close a loophole in the overtime rules

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Under NFL rules, the team that kicks off to start overtime is guaranteed one possession if the receiving team kicks a field goal on the first drive. But most fans probably don’t know exactly what “one possession” means.

Consider this scenario: Team A receives the overtime kickoff, marches down the field and kicks a field goal. On its ensuing possession, Team B throws an interception. But the player on Team A fumbles the ball, and a player on Team B scoops it up and runs for a touchdown. Who wins the game?

Under current NFL rules, Team A would win the game because Team B’s possession ended the instant a player on Team A intercepted Team B’s pass. Anything after the interception — including the fumble and the recovery and the touchdown — wouldn’t count. But under a proposed rules change, Team B would win the game because the new rule would allow the play to continue under normal rules.

In the NFL’s description of the proposed rules changes, this was not explained very clearly. The NFL described the proposal as, “If there is a turnover, a team may win an overtime game, even though it scores on its second possession.” We heard from some readers who didn’t understand what that meant.

What it means is that common sense will apply, if this proposed rule is implemented. And it will mean defensive players need to know to go down if they intercept a pass to clinch a victory in overtime.

48 responses to “NFL may close a loophole in the overtime rules

  1. I’m shocked someone noticed this before it actually happened in a game. It had to be someone outside the NFL who brought it to their attention.

  2. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the original OT rules…. first score of any kind wins.

  3. I see what you’re getting at, but the key point that you’re missing is that there was no stoppage in play. You can’t nullify a scoop and score if the play is never blown dead. In that scenario, the referees would never blow the whistle until he reached the end zone. So team B would win.

    And if they did try to uphold that rule, it would be chaos in the stands. Imagine if it was a playoff game…coaches and players would be chasing the referees all the way into the locker room. There would be a riot in the stands and it would be a huge black eye to the league.

  4. I’m surprised this didn’t happen to the Browns. They’re usually the scape goat team who finds a different ways to lose that leads to rule changes because no one though you could lose in whatever way they did it.

  5. So this rule will apply only if there a) overtime b) the team first in possession kicks a field goal, c) the team second in possession commits a fumble recovered by the other team, or an interception, and d) the recovering team scores a touchdown on the same play as the turnover. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t think that’s going to happen too frequently.

  6. More simply put, possession should be defined as who hikes the ball. Therefore, if a team intercepts but coughs it back out on the same play, no change in possession occurred.

  7. If you’re dumb enough to run around with a game-winning INT in overtime, then you deserve to fumble and lose the game

  8. Wish I could have seen that idiocy play out.
    Interception, fumble, td, you lose anyway it didn’t count because of the interception that happened during a play that wasn’t over until after a fumble and then a touch down.
    Ha. Would have been so classic NFL to have that happen on SNF with Green Bay and Pitt or New England and Indy. With a 20 minute meeting to figure it all out to end the game.

  9. If you have to propose a rule to make common sense apply, then the NFL’s understanding of common sense is sorely lacking. Something every NFL fan of all 32 teams have been saying about the referees since the invention of the sport.

  10. If team B throws an interception and team A is attempting to run it back but fumbles it back to team B, which returns it for a TD… Isn’t it technically the same play until the whistle blows? Only a whistle ends a possession change. So B never amassed a second possession.

  11. This is why the NFL rule book is an ABSOLUTE JOKE. “Technically, although the final play hasn’t ended and the final whistle blown play dead, Team A wins the game.”

    Why would any interpret the rule to be “Game over even though play is still going on”?

  12. Is an interception followed by a fumble before the whistle really a change of possession because the play was not over? The play is not over until the whistle was blown, correct? Of course clarifying it is good too.

  13. There are at least a dozen better ways to do OT than what the NFL is doing. Just line up and play another quarter.
    Concerned about player safety? In that case, line the kickers up at the 25 and let them kick FGs, moving back 5 yds each kick until someone misses.

  14. stipez says:
    March 23, 2018 at 8:33 am
    I’m shocked someone noticed this before it actually happened in a game. It had to be someone outside the NFL who brought it to their attention.

    ===============================

    well its part of the rulebook so im sure it wasnt john harbaugh.

  15. I’m surprised they didn’t make a rule that if you kick a field goal in OT the kicker has to be blindfolded.

  16. Glad they’re closing this before the Patriots can somehow benefit from it. Not that they can even gameplan for this but somehow, someway they would have eventually.

  17. Ok lets get this right. The NFL is changing an OT rule that has never happened, the chances of it happening are like one in a million but if its a shootout SB and the team that gets the ball first wins on a coin flip lets not address that.

  18. Why can’t they just make it completely fair an allow for ONE true possession by each team regardless if they score a touchdown or field goal and then it can be sudden death after those two possessions conclude? Does it really need to be this complicated??

  19. So you’re going to have a completely different rule for interceptions in overtime then you do during regular time. Oh thats brilliant and won’t possibly cause confusion.

  20. Novel concept and it’s much simpler.

    First score wins. Gee where did we see that before.

    You don’t want to see your team lose a coin toss and lose on a “cheap” FG? Too bad, try to win the game in regulation next time.

  21. Each team has 60 minutes to win each game, right? What one’s definition of “fair” is not someone else’s. The team that scores first in OT should be the winners of the game. Giving the other team a possession just because they didn’t get the ball in OT is senseless and might just prolong a game that might end in a tie. Again, your team had 60 minutes to beat the other team.

  22. It is a non-starter. If the first possessing team punts and the receiving team fumbles and the punting team recovers and family runs the ball in, would anyone call it back? Hell, no. No change required. Just do what you always do (tell the refs how to ‘deal’ with it.)

  23. savethebs says:
    March 23, 2018 at 9:47 am
    Glad they’re closing this before the Patriots can somehow benefit from it. Not that they can even gameplan for this but somehow, someway they would have eventually.

    ————————
    So if they benefit under the new rule where they would not have under the old rule will you still agree with the change or will it then be deemed unfair or cheating?

  24. So what happens of team a kicks a field goal, team b throws an int, team a fumbles the int, and team b recovers the int for a first down and runs out of bounds? Does possession 2 continue for team b or does the game end with team a winning?

  25. Eliminate the coin flip, place the ball at the 50 and have both team line up at their respective goal line. Blow the whistle and whoever gets the ball, gets to start there. If they score, the game’s over

  26. slew55 says:
    March 23, 2018 at 9:31 am

    Glad we cleared that up. Now if we can just figure out what a catch is….

    They are working on it, so now when a player runs a hook route and catches the ball while on his knees and touched down immediately, it has to be incomplete because he has no chance to make o football move. A catch on the side lines with a toe drag while falling down out of bounds, incomplete, because there was no football move. Thought it was dumb to make it a “no catch” with a slight bobble? Proposed rule states you don’t even have to lose control for it to be incomplete.

  27. And it will mean defensive players need to know to go down if they intercept a pass to clinch a victory in overtime.
    _________

    See the 2014 NFC Championship game for a textbook example of how to do this by Morgan Burnett. Of course, he did it with five minutes left in the game and they lost.

  28. Why does the league continue to make things more difficult?
    Either end the damn game in a tie, or go to college overtime rules.
    Simple.

  29. The dumbest thing the NFL ever did was get rid of sudden death overtime. Wudden death was, by far, the most exciting thing in all of sports–so, naturally, they changed the rules. Now we have something closer to a soccer shootout, which sucks big time. (God, I hate soccer.) Bring back sudden death and watch the television ratings improve. It’s exciting as hell.

  30. Reminds me of the play against the Pats this year where Austin Seferian-Jenkins “fumbled” the ball out of the end zone even tho the ball never left his hands.

  31. omeimontis says:

    March 23, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Is an interception followed by a fumble before the whistle really a change of possession because the play was not over? The play is not over until the whistle was blown, correct? Of course clarifying it is good too.
    ————————————————————————
    The play isn’t over until the whistle, but possession can change. It happens. If the original offense recovers a fumble after a turnover, the original offense now has 1st and 10 again because of the change of possessions, regardless of what it was previously. We’ve all seen it happen.

    Imagine if a team is down and the red zone and has a ball intercepted and during a return, just before the defensive back is about to score, he is caught from being and fumbles. The ball is returned to the original offense. It’s not now 2nd and 78. It’s 1st and 10 again.

  32. The dumbest thing the NFL ever did was get rid of sudden death overtime. Wudden death was, by far, the most exciting thing in all of sports–so, naturally, they changed the rules. Now we have something closer to a soccer shootout, which sucks big time. (God, I hate soccer.) Bring back sudden death and watch the television ratings improve. It’s exciting as hell.
    ======

    Amen!

  33. College OT rules can stay there, they don’t belong in the NFL.

    I think what we have now is fine. A team that wants to win on a walkoff score must earn it.

    🙂

  34. I prefer sudden death overtime. Also, eliminate the coin flip. The visiting team receives to start the game, the home team receives to start the second half. The team that ties the game with a placekick kicks off in overtime. The team that ties the game any other way receives. Overtime should be something team want to avoid.

  35. Just quit screwing around and make overtime sudden death 1st team that scores wins period!
    They just cannot quit screwing around with the rules and making them more convoluted.
    Both teams have had the whole game to score. All this rule does is increase the chances of tired players to get hurt which is what is going to happen THEN they will change it back because of it. QUIT MESSING WITH THE RULES!!!!

  36. Since it is a “continuation” play, what happens if the Team A interceptor does not immediately lie go down to the ground as he should, rather he continues to the end zone, does the TD count? If so, Team A would win the game in overtime by a FG and a TD, i.e., by 9 points. For one thing, bettors working on a tight point spread would go NUTS!

  37. While the rule itself is pretty basic, I believe that the interpretation here is wrong. A game does NOT end DURING a live play. No more than it does at the end of a half.

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