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.