NFL overtime rules and procedures

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When a NFL game ends in a tie, the game continues with overtime.

Overtime commences with a coin toss. The visiting team captain calls the toss. The winner of the toss can choose whether to receive the kick or to kick off, or the team winning the toss can choose which goal to defend.

If the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on the kickoff return or the ensuing possession, the game is over and that team has won the game. There is no one- or two-point conversion attempt.

If the team that receives the opening kickoff does not score a touchdown or a field goal on its initial possession, the next team to score wins the game.

If the team that receives the opening kickoff is tackled in the end zone for a safety, the game is over and the second team has won the game.

If the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a field goal on the initial possession, the second team receives an opportunity to possess the ball.

If after the first team scores a field goal the second team scores a touchdown, the game is over and the second team has won the game. There is no one- or two-point conversion attempt.

If after the first team scores a field goal the second team scores a field goal, the next team to score wins the game.

If after the first team scores a field goal the second team fails to score during its possession, the game is over and the first team has won.

If after the first team scores a field goal the second team loses possession by interception or fumble, the play continues until its conclusion. For example, the first team can return the ball for a touchdown, winning by nine points. Or the first team can lose possession during the return, the second team can recover the ball, and the second team can return it for a touchdown, winning the game.

Possession means simply an opportunity to possess the ball. An onside kick or a muffed kickoff recovery or a live ball recovered by the kicking team constitutes an opportunity to possess.

In the regular season, overtime continues for up to 10 minutes of clock time. If the game remains tied after the extra 10 minutes, the game ends in a tie. Both teams have two time outs, and the two-minute warning applies.

In the postseason, the initial overtime period proceeds for 15 minutes. If the game remains tied after the initial 15-minute period, another 15-minute period begins, and so on until the game ends.

After a second 15-minute overtime period, the third period begins like the third quarter of a normal game, with a new kickoff. Both teams have three time outs for each two quarters of postseason overtime.

7 responses to “NFL overtime rules and procedures

  1. Each team should get equal possession opportunity kind of like college, not the flip of a coin being a decisive factor.

  2. If it were up to me, I would eliminate overtime altogether for the regular season–let ties be ties–and have straight 15-minute OT periods for the postseason. No sudden death, just whoever’s ahead when the clock runs out wins.

  3. With Mike Florio’s concept I would rather keep the tie he says the regular seasons let a coin flip decide the winner because you had a chance to win in regular season well with that ideology then just don’t play in overtime you’re better off letting the team who fought hard for 60 minutes to go ahead and keep their half a win which is what a tie is Florio makes no sense

  4. There are many football related issues on which I am of opposing viewpoint to Mike Florio, but I find myself in agreement with his overtime proposal. I never had that much of an issue with the coin flip thing, and the fact is that if you end regulation in a tie, there was probably so much random luck involved, that the added random luck of the coin flip really does not matter.

  5. In OT, if the receiving team holds the ball almost all the entire 10 minute OT period and kicks a FG with one second remaining, does the other team still get a possession to try and tie or win the game?

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