The NFL has closed an odd loophole in the overtime rules, fixing a problem that had never come up — but would have caused major controversy if it had.
Most fans probably had no idea that this could ever become an issue, but when the NFL tweaked its overtime rules, it didn’t clarify what, exactly, constituted a possession.
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 the old rule, Team A wins the game, because Team B’s possession ended the moment the interception was thrown. But that just feels wrong: How can you lose a game when the game ends with you running into the end zone for a touchdown?
Now the NFL has changed the rule. Under the new rule, Team B will win the game: Every play will be officiated to its finish, and if a team re-takes possession and scores a touchdown on that play, that team will win.
To put it another way: If you score a touchdown in overtime, you win. Always.