Since NFL tweaked rule, most playoff overtimes ended on first-drive TDs

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In 2011, the NFL decided it was time to change overtime in the postseason. Overtime in the NFL playoffs had been sudden-death since the very first overtime game in 1958, when the Colts beat the Giants in what some call the Greatest Game Ever Played. But starting in 2011, the league decided that a field goal on the opening possession couldn’t end the game.

Most people were expecting the new rule to result in both offenses getting a shot in most overtime games, but that hasn’t happened. Since the new rules came into being, there have been eight postseason overtimes, and five of them have ended with a touchdown on the opening drive.

Those five were the Patriots over the Chiefs on Sunday, the Patriots over the Falcons in the Super Bowl two years ago, the Cardinals over the Packers in 2016, the Seahawks over the Packers in 2015 and the Broncos over the Steelers in 2012. The three games where both offenses saw the field were the Rams over the Saints on Sunday, the Ravens over the Broncos in 2013 and the Giants over the 49ers in 2012. Those games all ended with field goals.

Just because five postseason games have ended with first-drive touchdowns, that doesn’t necessarily mean the rule isn’t working as intended: What really drove the rule change was concern that teams were getting the overtime kickoff, driving into field goal range and then playing it safe and winning with an opening-drive field goal. The rule was intended to incentivize teams to try to score touchdowns, and on that front it has succeeded.

But there seems to be a groundswell of support for changing the overtime rule again. The next rule may simply be that a team cannot win on its first possession, whether scoring a touchdown or a field goal.

61 responses to “Since NFL tweaked rule, most playoff overtimes ended on first-drive TDs

  1. With all the rules favoring offenses, this should come as no surprise.

    And this is yet another way in which the NFL has taken a great sport and put it at cross-purposes with itself through short-sightedness and a lack of vision.

  2. Just so we’re clear, this “groundswell” is based on the argument that it was unfair for the Chiefs to decide to kick a tying field goal to go to overtime on purpose rather than man up and throw it into the end zone to win in regulation, knowing they were risking a coin toss and the possibility of not getting the ball back, and ultimately losing because Tom Brady squashed their defense like a bug while KC fans tried to blind him with lasers. I mean, I just want to be crystal clear about the “unfairness” argument here.

  3. Instead of saying each team gets a possession, or whatever, just make it a full 15 minutes. Even if a team has an 11 minute (rare) touchdown drive, the next team has 4 minutes to tie it. If it’s tied after 15 minutes, another 15 minute OT. While teams might not want to play that much extra, it might give them incentive to get the game over in that first OT by going for 2 or on fourth down more often.

  4. The defenses get more tired at that point of the game, easier for the offense to exploit situationally. I would like to see a full 15 min quarter played to determine the outcome. Not just possibly one drive. More line an NBA OT. Otherwise just leave it alone. You are never, ever going to make everything perfect. That’s why schemes and adjustments matter.

  5. You’re never going to make everyone happy. Why even try?

    How many more concussion lawsuits is the league worried about by extending the game another quarter?

    I like not being able to win on a quick FG. While this league is very offensive friendly, the defense needs to step up. If you don’t like the rule, don’t give up a TD. If you don’t like that rule, win the game in regulation.

  6. How about each team gets 2 possessions, and then after that….we’ll ask each owner if they want any redos out of concern for “fairness” and “integrity”…..then we’ll poll the fans via their smartphones on whether they’d like any plays reviewed….and then because only asking fans who have smartphones isn’t fair to people with flip phones, they’ll get a chance to alphatext 1 for yes or 2 for no whether they feel ok about everything???

  7. The only reason there’s a “groundswell” is the Pats beat KC last weekend. Does anyone even vaguely believe if the Chiefs had won there would have been a single peep to do so? Absolutely not.

    Saints fans are pissed about the non call on the PI, but nobody’s bitching the Rams won with a TD in OT.

    You can’t change rules just because a team you don’t like won a game and you wanted a different outcome.

  8. I thought the purpose of the existing rule was to make it more challenging while in turn taking into account player safety…..
    The existing rule is fine…..the ONLY REASON this is now an issue is that the Patriots won…..

  9. weepingjebus says:
    January 22, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Just so we’re clear, this “groundswell” is based on the argument that it was unfair for the Chiefs to decide to kick a tying field goal to go to overtime on purpose rather than man up and throw it into the end zone to win in regulation, knowing they were risking a coin toss and the possibility of not getting the ball back, and ultimately losing because Tom Brady squashed their defense like a bug while KC fans tried to blind him with lasers. I mean, I just want to be crystal clear about the “unfairness” argument here

    —————————————————————

    So much this. They had multiple chances to try to win this game, but they failed. Now, the fair, and agreed upon, rules need to be changed, because Andy Reid deserves his shot, and dammit, pass the torch already, Tommy. The last two days are the first time in my life I have been ashamed to be such a huge fan of the NFL. Between the OT whine from KC, and the flag whines from NO, this is pathetic. Is this what happens when kids don’t keep score, and everyone gets a trophy?

  10. The more I think about it the more a times OT makes the most sense. It preserves the integrity of the game in that the normal game strategies are still in play. It doesn’t put so much onus on the luck of the coin flip and the highly likely effect of one element of the game being a factor (e.g. only the defense getting on the field). Imagine if basketball OT was over as soon as one team scored or even scored say 5 points. It is a time based game so OT is a time period. Even baseball while not time based maintains the integrity and basic structure of the game as extra innings are a complete inning allowing both teams to go on offense. I think hockey’s OT should be timed as it is but not sudden death.

  11. Fine the way it is. If a change “must” be made, simply play an “untimed” overtime. Start the clock at 0:00 and let it count upwards. Each team gets the ball once, guaranteed. Just keep playing until one team scores and the other fails to tie the game. Eliminate the PAT kick and make them go for two.
    After all, the playoff teams are supposedly the cream of the crop in the NFL and true fans would enjoy more football played by evenly matched teams.

  12. The only real problem with the overtime rule is all the rules in place that favor the offense. That’s why you see so many end on the first drive. With that said you had two of the top offenses going at it on Sunday and but had a chance with the ball. You had games in the regular that ended in draws. Its overtime. Its supposed to be a “who wants it more” moment. If you go on defense first stop them from scoring a touchdown.

    You could always do what the majority of other teams do when they win. Win in regulation.

  13. lks311 says:
    January 22, 2019 at 1:08 pm
    What’s wrong with just playing an extra quarter? THEN, sudden death.
    ————————————
    Players are tired & way more at risk of getting hurt…..
    Ok, what if this happened: They do what you suggest & Mahomes gets tackled & he breaks his leg so bad he misses next season too or has a career ending injury from playing such long extended time….. if player safety is truly a concern why would the league risk that….
    Win in regulation or stop them in overtime……KC HAD BOTH HOMEFIELD ADVANTAGE & several opportunities to do just that, the better team won that game that day

  14. harrisonhits2 says:
    January 22, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    You can’t change rules just because a team you don’t like won a game and you wanted a different outcome.

    **********************************************************

    Tell that to the Democrats.

  15. the only groundswell of support for another stupid change is coming from you! enough already! play defense and stop them and you get your chance! if it were the other way around and the chiefs won do you think there would be any support to change the rules?

  16. Seriously, folks: A five minute sustained drive with multiple third and longs converted and that is somehow unfair and needs to be fixed?

    The New NFL: “At the end of regulation, let’s give each team a healthy snack and a participation ribbon – Why should any team have to go home sad.”

  17. Before the rule change an offense didn’t have to risk scoring a TD which is more difficult than kicking a FG that is now about the distance of an extra point.

  18. Won’t happen. Game ending on a TD is the ultimate finale. Imagine if the Patriots scored Sunday and KC gets the ball and goes 3-and-out, game over. What an unsatisfying end to the game that would have been. I realize that can still happen if the first possession is a FG and the second team can’t score but no reason to create additional opportunities for such a boring end of game sequence, imo.

  19. Instead of a lucky coin toss, how about a football-related skill competition? Hold a punt, pass, and kick competition. Or at least have them play a video game.

  20. redclaw1314 says:
    January 22, 2019 at 12:49 pm
    short of replaying the game there is no perfect solution since one of the teams can always be seen as having some sort of advantage

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

    Yes, but things can be done to minimize the advantage.

  21. Some suggestions:
    Quarterback with the hottest wife wins
    Coach with the least number of cheating complaints wins
    Have both kickers arm-wrestle for the win
    Have a drunken Joe Namath draw the winner from a hat
    I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 100
    Pizza party!
    Have two random gamers duke it out on Madden
    Play four quarters…if you tie you tie. Shoulda tried harder

  22. Another tail wagging the dog. Make rules because a team wins that fans and media don’t want to win. It took a fg now it takes a td. What babies. Just take a poll and the winner of the poll wins the game. A virtual win. No need to play the game. The gamblers will be happy, the talking heads will be happy.

  23. I just don’t understand why they don’t adopt the college system. I know this will get a bunch of dislikes but I’ve yet to hear a coherent argument why the college OT isn’t the best.

    Is the college system fair? Yes. both teams get the ball with a chance to match score.
    Is it exciting? Yes, way more so than current NFL system where one team marches down, scores a TD, and game over.

  24. The most exciting way for these games to end is on touchdowns, not field goals or incomplete passes. Besides, even if the Chiefs had scored, there is no question in anyone’s mind that the Patriots would subsequently kick a field goal to win the game (unless those who want change want to drag the game out further). They had three 3rd and 10s and couldn’t stop the Patriots. They deserved to lose and did.

  25. The NFL can’t change the rule every time the Patriots win when playing by the existing rules. Or can they?
    Imagine the next time the Patriots win on OT with both teams having possession?! Revert back to the previous version? When will it ever end?

  26. “Tell that to the Democrats.”

    They haven’t, they just want the GOP to follow the rules and stop being traitors who sold the country out to Russia

  27. play a full quarter of football. on average thats 7 minutes and 30 seconds more for each player. given that they dont play during all that time, plus special teams plays, you are asking players on either side of the ball to MAYBE play 10-12 actual football plays. these are supposed to be the best athletes in the world. but 10-12 more plays than the average game is too many?
    nba plays a full 5 minutes, nhl goes 20 minutes in the playoffs. play the td current rulel in reg season, but playoffs needs the full quarter

  28. harrisonhits2 says:
    January 22, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    The only reason there’s a “groundswell” is the Pats beat KC last weekend. Does anyone even vaguely believe if the Chiefs had won there would have been a single peep to do so? Absolutely not.

    Saints fans are pissed about the non call on the PI, but nobody’s bitching the Rams won with a TD in OT.

    You can’t change rules just because a team you don’t like won a game and you wanted a different outcome.
    ___________________________________________________________________________________
    well that’s because the rams didn’t win it with a TD in OT. they won it with a 57 yard fg by Legatron. Why comment if you didn’t watch the game?

  29. Nobody is complaining about Rams winning in OT because both teams got posession of the ball.

    harrisonhits2 says:

    January 22, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    The only reason there’s a “groundswell” is the Pats beat KC last weekend. Does anyone even vaguely believe if the Chiefs had won there would have been a single peep to do so? Absolutely not.

    Saints fans are pissed about the non call on the PI, but nobody’s bitching the Rams won with a TD in OT.

    You can’t change rules just because a team you don’t like won a game and you wanted a different outcome.

  30. For OT, they should play until the last uninjured man is still standing. Introduce lions and whatnot in OT. Have folks on side with spears so nobody goes out of bounds. And folks in stands can practice their archery. Will be a small problem, as winning team will not be able to go on.
    This isn’t a board game, where one can have best out of 14, like they do in chess. You can’t have games drag on all night because of the nature of the game. I recall KC had three tries to get ball when the Pats were on third down. You have to be good on both sides of ball. Actually feel bad for Berry covering Gronk, one-on one. He even had Gronk covered on sideline throw, but when your up against a dude 5″ taller and 50pds heavier with platter hands, bad things will happen.

  31. I’ve always liked the idea of best-of-five 2-point conversions (followed by sudden death 2-pointers, if required). I know a lot of people find this “gimmicky”, but I think if a game is tied after 60 minutes then that’s a pretty good indication the teams are evenly matched and it’s time to force a result, so that one team moves on.

    You can say what you want about the penalty shootout in soccer, but it’s hard to deny that it’s one of the more dramatic things you can see in sports. This would be the football equivalent.

  32. Why not just play a 10 minute or quarter, at the end of that is that… or go to the college system.

  33. OK, how about:

    each team gets a possession and must go for a 2 point conversion from the 3 yard line, no extra points

    2nd team can not go for it on 4th down unless the first team did, and only as many times

  34. endtimesparty says:
    January 22, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Instead of a lucky coin toss, how about a football-related skill competition? Hold a punt, pass, and kick competition.
    ————————————————————————————–
    And, to make it official, one of the kids in the age group has to be a foot taller than all the others and 50 pounds overweight.

  35. lowesislander
    36m ago
    harrisonhits2 says:
    January 22, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    You can’t change rules just because a team you don’t like won a game and you wanted a different outcome.

    **********************************************************

    Tell that to the Democrats.

    Better to cry fraud then admit defeat is the GOP way.

  36. edukator44 says:
    January 22, 2019 at 1:44 pm
    play a full quarter of football. on average thats 7 minutes and 30 seconds more for each player. given that they dont play during all that time, plus special teams plays, you are asking players on either side of the ball to MAYBE play 10-12 actual football plays. these are supposed to be the best athletes in the world. but 10-12 more plays than the average game is too many?
    nba plays a full 5 minutes, nhl goes 20 minutes in the playoffs. play the td current rulel in reg season, but playoffs needs the full quarter
    ———————————————

    So while a well rested 1 or 2 seed is coming off a bye the winner of the WC game is coming off playing 5 quarters as well as incurring the attendant inherent injury risk?

    There’s nothing wrong with playoff OT the way it is

  37. “You can’t change rules just because a team you don’t like won a game and you wanted a different outcome.”
    – As a Pats fan, I’ve seen it happen more than once. The NFL changing the way defensive backs can play bc the Colts whined about it after getting throttled is one prime example.

    “Tell that to Democrats” – what a ridiculous statement. Not only did President Trump proudly “own” this shutdown, the midterms showed quite clearly that this country is sick of the GOPs descent into madness. Look in a mirror and ask yourself if you would be just as supportive of a Democrat who was a serial liar, scumbag who cheats on every wife, failed businessman, etc.

  38. Don’t understand why they don’t just go the NCAA/CFL route with OT. It’s more exciting, and it’s actually fair for both teams.

    I mean, it’s not like the NFL has a problem with doing away with tradition given all the rules in recent years to limit defense and special teams.

  39. carloswlassiter says:
    January 22, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    And, to make it official, one of the kids in the age group has to be a foot taller than all the others and 50 pounds overweight.
    ——————-

    Cue the Andy Reid Punt-Pass-Kick video.

  40. millertime953 says:
    January 22, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Better to cry fraud then admit defeat is the GOP way.
    —————–

    Then why are the democrats doing just that?

  41. harrisonhits2 says:
    January 22, 2019 at 1:43 pm
    “Tell that to the Democrats.”

    They haven’t, they just want the GOP to follow the rules and stop being traitors who sold the country out to Russia
    —————–

    That’s rich, considering the democrats are the ones that sold out to Russia.

  42. Adopt the college overtime rules. They have it right. Why don’t the nfl get it right? The nfl is full of idiots and corrupt officials. I already abandoned the nba since 2002 when the corrupt nba and the officiating robbed the kings in the western finals against the lakers. It was so blatant and obvious. Boxing is also corrupt to the core, giving the obvious loser a winning decision. It happens far to often. The only sport that hasn’t lost its integrity is baseball. Baseball players determine the outcome, not the refs. I’m done with the nfl. It’s become a joke, corrupt refs determine the outcome far to often they take away a victory and give them a loss with the most ridiculous corrupt officiating. Sunday did it for me. They robbed both the saints and chiefs of a win with under a minute to play. Only idiot brainwashed fanboys are supporting the disgraceful corruption that took place. Patriots and rams both lost and are in the superbowl thanks to the corrupt nfl and it’s disgraceful referees. The referees determine the outcome, not the players. Anyone that denies that are just as corrupt as the refs. I’m officially done with the nfl. I’ve been done with basketball and boxing. I’m looking forward to the new football league and college football and baseball. That’s all I’ll be watching. There’s no point in watching the WWE/WWF wrestling aka nfl football when it’s already predetermined who’s going to win. That’s not real competitive football, it’s pure entertainment setting up the teams who makes the most money , brings in the most views. Goodbye, good riddance.

  43. The only point I have is I want the games to be reffed fairly. I DO NOT CARE if the Vikings win, I just want a fairly refereed game.
    The non call on Robey, the wrong roughing call on Jones after the exact same non call on the Pats, the non call on the Chiefs wheel pick, the missed face mask on Cooks catch.

    It’s judt getting that I don’t care who wins, just have a ref watch the game on TV and buzz the head ref with the right call. No big deal, minimal discussion. Transparent. The right team wins.

    The NFL is such a joke for its fake production squeezing every last dollar out of us, while we stupidly hope to see a fairly reffed game.

    We think we’re watching football, but we’re watching a 2500 year psychology experiment about how to separate a fool and his money.

    And OT should be 15 min in the playoffs. Period.

  44. fordbw says:
    January 22, 2019 at 1:39 pm
    There should be no overtime and the game should end in a tie.

    ——–
    So which team advances to the next round of the playoffs? Coin toss to decide?

  45. harrisonhits2 says:
    January 22, 2019 at 1:43 pm
    “Tell that to the Democrats.”

    They haven’t, they just want the GOP to follow the rules and stop being traitors who sold the country out to Russia
    —-
    Proof please…I mean it must be true since its on all the George Soros owned News media outlets. We couldn’t possibly be living in an Orwellian 1984 society, right sheeple?

  46. thecatalinawinemixer says:
    January 22, 2019 at 12:56 pm
    Instead of saying each team gets a possession, or whatever, just make it a full 15 minutes. Even if a team has an 11 minute (rare) touchdown drive, the next team has 4 minutes to tie it. If it’s tied after 15 minutes, another 15 minute OT. While teams might not want to play that much extra, it might give them incentive to get the game over in that first OT by going for 2 or on fourth down more often.

    —————————————-

    Right, and after a couple of these overtimes, both defenses will be dead.
    Not dead tired- just dead.

  47. cecilastra says:
    January 22, 2019 at 1:48 pm
    Nobody is complaining about Rams winning in OT because both teams got posession of the ball.

    ————————————————

    Because the Rams TOOK the ball away from the Saints in OT.
    The Chiefs could have done the same.
    Why didn’t they?

  48. Rules are put under the microscope when the Patriots win. It’s not easy to have a TD anytime. Had the Chiefs won in the OT, it will be business as usual. No griping.

  49. Each team gets the ball on the 25 yard line. They keep going until someone can’t match the TD. Snake order.

    Team A gets ball, scores TD.
    Team B gets ball, scores TD.
    Team B gets ball, scores TD
    Team A gets ball, does not score.
    Game Over. Team B wins.

  50. College football & the NFL HAVE THE DUMBEST OVERTIME RULES IN SPORTS …..NHL , NBA and MLB
    Have a better set up – hockey & basketball have offense and defense constantly going back & forth – baseball you get and even shake by playing one FULL inning after another …… football….. dumb just dumb

  51. Only 3 overtime games in playoff history have been legitimate: 1971 Miami @ KC
    1977 Raiders @ Colts
    1981 Chargers @ Dolphins………2 went to double OT and the other should have…..overtime is a joke
    Kinda always has been : RULE WISE

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