NFL’s new postseason overtime rule means game doesn’t end with a TD on first possession

Kansas City Chiefs vs Buffalo Bills, 2022 AFC Divisional Playoffs
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In last year’s playoffs, the Bills and Chiefs played one of the greatest games in NFL history, but it was a game that left many fans feeling unfulfilled: It ended with the Chiefs receiving the overtime kickoff and scoring the game-winning touchdown on the opening possession. Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who had played a brilliant game, never touched the ball in overtime.

This year, that won’t happen: The NFL changed its playoff overtime rules in the offseason, and now postseason games won’t end with a touchdown on the opening possession of overtime.

Now if a team scores a touchdown on the first possession of overtime, it will line up to kick an extra point or attempt a two-point conversion. Then that team will kick off, and the other team will get a chance to score a touchdown. If that team does score a touchdown, it will line up for an extra point or two-point conversion of its own. It’s possible that the game can end at that point: For instance, if the first team kicked an extra point, the second team can try a game-ending two-point conversion attempt. But if the score remains tied after both teams’ touchdowns, at that point the team that scored the second touchdown would kick off again, and from there on it would be sudden-death overtime.

The new rules could lead to some new strategies: Some coaches may actually prefer to kick off to begin overtime, on the thinking that they’d rather know what the other team has done when they get the ball, and know if they need to play for a touchdown or can settle for a field goal. Some coaches may be more aggressive about going for two after a touchdown.

There is still one scenario in which both teams don’t get a possession in overtime: If the team kicking off
to start overtime scores a safety on the receiving team’s initial possession, the team that kicked off is the winner without ever possessing the ball. For instance, if the kickoff returner gets tackled deep in his own territory, and then on the next play the quarterback is sacked in his own end zone, that safety ends the game.

Unlike regular-season overtime, which is 10 minutes long, playoff overtime is essentially starting a new game: Teams will play 15-minute periods until there is a winner. If there’s been no winner after two 15-minute periods, there will be another kickoff to start the third overtime period, although there won’t be a halftime break between periods. Needing to go to a third overtime period has never happened in NFL history.

65 responses to “NFL’s new postseason overtime rule means game doesn’t end with a TD on first possession

  1. Just to rock-paper-scissors if football is going to keep getting crazier each time some team didn’t get their chance. Or H-O-R-S-E with the kickers. Or a food eating contest with the head coaches at mid field (Andy Reid every dang time!).

  2. I swear if this were 1991 the league would change the rules for the Bills, saying the goalpost moved left. Or a competitively unfair gust of wind came up and blew the ball right. Immediate rekick. The league changes ot rules because of them, cancels a game they were losing, then changes the rules to determine seeding and home field for them. It’s comical.

  3. Two exhausted teams shuffling around for 45 minutes, bumping viewers favorite TV shows off the schedule…The complaints desk is gonna be busy. Maybe a penalty field goal kickoff. Everybody lines up and both teams players take turns kicking point afters??

  4. NFL overtime rules get more and more ridiculous with each passing year.
    How about a team actually play defense for once instead of whining when they can’t stop the opponent on an opening possession?

  5. Because, you know, the NFL had never considered that in the playoffs one team could score a TD on the first possession and that may not be fair. Brilliant minds at 345 Park Ave.

  6. If Josh Allen got the ball but went 4-and-out or threw a pick, would fans have felt more “fulfilled?”

  7. How convenient. I think Rodgers and the Packers lost three postseason overtime games in this manner, and he gets vilified for being a one-hit wonder. Can you imagine if Brady can take advantage of this new rule? He’d be taking all his manner of “lucky” to a completely different level.

  8. Cant wait for this year’s NFL darlings to get beat in a way the NFL doesnt like so we can change more rules…

  9. Play a 10 or 15 minute period until time and game is decided. If still tied after extra period, go to sudden death.

  10. What’s next – participation trophies and orange slices?

    Bring back SUDDEN DEATH!!

  11. Correct me if I’m wrong but it also means a game could continue on indefinitely. In theory at least.

  12. I’m one who believes the NFL changes rules too often. Why do we need rule changes every single season?

    The thing the NFL lacks is stability. We have neverending player movement, coach movement, and rules changes. For all those who like the relentless churn, there are a lot of us who want some stability in our sports.

  13. Not a fan of this rule. It actually makes for only one viable strategy – kick off in overtime if you can, rather than weighing the risks.

  14. What if the receiving team fumbles the kickoff and it’s recovered by the kicking team in the end zone?

    Maybe make the first OT “quarter” a 6 minute period with no sudden death.

    The second and subsequent overtime “quarters” would be sudden death.

  15. Pathetic. This
    Is the sixth changed to overtime in the past 10 years after going 90 years with zero changes. And the people who wanted to change will never be satisfied.

  16. Stupidest rule change yet. Let’s go back to sudden death, but with no field goals. Either that or play out another quarter. The NFL sucks at rule changes every time.

  17. Call me crazy but defense and special teams play too. I get that people are emotional about their teams but the Bills folded like a house of cards. All they had to do was squib kick and make a stop or two. Game over. That was a bad defensive game, yes overtime came down to the coin toss (The Chiefs D wasn’t stopping them, either) but to say the rule isn’t fair because both offenses don’t get the ball is just ridiculous. 3 facets to the game. If 2 of them fail, then you deserve to lose. Period.

  18. College football OT rules are way to gimmicky for the NFL especially since they changed it so teams only go for 2 starting with the 3rd OT. NFL players are professionals and should keep playing like a normal game. I think this rule change is fine although I still think it should go back to 15 min in the regular season.

  19. Why not just make it like college football?

    This is the NFL! Why would they choose something as simple as that? I love having to re-explain overtime rules every year, to the casual fan who’s watching the games with us!

  20. Wouldn’t it also end with a defensive fumble or interception return for a TD on the first possession as well (not just a safety)?

  21. NFL sure is doing a bang up job diluting the game. Everybody gets a participation trophy…..defense can’t stop the other team…it ok your team gets another chance!

  22. When the Chiefs and Mahomes lost to the Patriots in similar fashion in the playoffs in 2017 or thereabouts there was no outcry. Pat Mahomes sat on the bench, watched Brady match down the field and score and got up to head for the team bus. Just saying.

  23. What I found unfair about the OT rule was that based on PURE luck, no skill what so ever a coin toss determines who gets the ball first. And that team can possibly March down the field score a TD and win the game with the opponent’s offense never getting a chance. That’s why as a long time Patriots fan I agree that the Atlanta Falcons should have been give a chance to tie NE in overtime in the SB a few years back. Say all you want about “Atlanta didn’t deserve to win”, etc, but we don’t know what would have happened it they had been given an equal, fair, opportunity. Perhaps they tie it up and win on their next series?

  24. Playoff rules should be the same as regular season rules. Playoff games (including the Superbowl) should be allowed to end in a tie.

  25. This is the most fair OT rule that can be used in football without changing the basic premise of the game like college football does. College OT rules are fine, but I’d rather see the game played the same way in OT. This is what the OT rule should have been changed to when it was originally changed.

  26. I think this continues to be so much overthinking around something simple.

    “Fair” is having 60 minutes of regulation time to win the game. Tiebreakers only exist for the purpose of deciding a game that neither team has managed to win outright. So no matter how you do it, it’s going to “feel” less fair simply because it has to make up some new criteria for naming a winner.

    The idea that both teams “deserve” to have possession has always seemed odd and juvenile to me. Teams will get complacent if they always know they’ll get another chance. The end of regulation should mean the end of safety – teams should want to avoid overtime, not seek it out. It should carry inherent risk, not just be another guaranteed possession.

  27. Get rid of that competition committee, every year changes rules that don’t need to be changed. They do it so they can justify being there.

  28. This is a game for men. Be a man…sudden death like it was until participation trophies appeared. Lose the coin toss, stop the other team and score. But that would take accountability from people and society doesn’t like that.

  29. These silly rule changes wouldn’t be necessary if the rules were equally balanced between offense and defense.

  30. secondgenameriacan says:
    January 12, 2023 at 9:09 am
    How about a pick six or scoop and score off a fumble on the first possession?
    I think the game ends then, and technically both teams would technically have had a possession.

  31. Winner of the coin toss will defer 9 out of ten times….


    About the only scenario I can think of for the 1 team NOT deferring is ungodly weather where you’re more than confident a punt is going to come and set you up with better field position. Otherwise it’s insane not to defer. Not only do you know what you need for the win, but you also get an ‘extra’ down to work with your entire drive if the other team scored. The threat of the TD ending the game was the only reason to take the ball first with the old rule.

  32. Wait…um, the hoping for a punt scenario would also be deferring. DUH! Never mind. Zero scenarios where taking the ball first is the correct call with the new rule!

  33. This rule change was never needed. The Bengals were in the exact same situation as the Bills and the Bengals made it work. While everybody loves offense and wishes their team gets a shot, you do get a shot, by having your defense on the field. Stop them or hold them to 3 and your offense can go back out. Football is 3 phases, not one.

  34. It’s ridiculous to say it’s not fair if each team does not get the ball in overtime. You had 60 minutes to possess the ball and win the game, and now it’s overtime. You are NEVER guaranteed the ball at any point in any football game. If the team receiving the opening kickoff can possess the ball for 15 minutes without scoring then the entire first quarter goes without the other team possessing the ball. Why should overtime be any different. Flip a coin to decide the winner if it’s going to be about anything other than, you know, football.

  35. about time! This is certainly a step closer to fairness. Anyone who can’t see that is willfully blind.

  36. The unfairness of the previous rules allowed the Chiefs to beat both the Bills and Bengals in OT, giving them an undeserved Super Bowl appearance.
    Oh my bad, Cincinnati’s defensive players actually showed up in overtime and picked off Mahomes on their first possession leading to the Bengals’ game winning field goal.

    Play some, or just shut up.

  37. Play a full extra 15 minute quarter. Keep playing until there is a winner. Simple. It is playoff football, nobody is NOT going to want to watch overtime playoff football.

  38. So it is a rule change to cover for the we don’t want to spend any money on our defenses (ie they are not good) and why we can’t stop offenses these teams come to mind KC, Minnesota and Buffalo, but screws teams that have properly invested in having an above average D (Niners, Eagles, Ravens (when not so injured) come to mind).

  39. getem says:
    January 12, 2023 at 6:24 am
    I swear if this were 1991 the league would change the rules for the Bills, saying the goalpost moved left. Or a competitively unfair gust of wind came up and blew the ball right. Immediate rekick. The league changes ot rules because of them, cancels a game they were losing, then changes the rules to determine seeding and home field for them. It’s comical.


    Two years of teams not getting a shot in OT made this change after last season (chiefs against Pats, then Bills against chiefs) The NFL eventually changes tricky rules when they hear the same criticism for several years.

    Canceling the Bills/Bengals game was not the best solution, but what praytell would you have done? You should be more upset that the NFL puts their TV partners ahead of competitive balance, and that is EXACTLY why they did not shift the playoffs to accomodate the replay (or continuation) or BIlls/Bengals.

  40. College football’s overtime system is awful. It’s entertaining but it’s not football. Like having penalty kicks deciding the end for a soccer game, it’s riveting to watch but it’s an absolutely horrible way to end a game.

  41. “..Not fair – one team gets 2 possessions, the other only gets one…”

    You mean like the old rule where one team got a possession and the other didn’t get any?

  42. getem says:
    January 12, 2023 at 6:24 am
    I swear if this were 1991 the league would change the rules for the Bills, saying the goalpost moved left. Or a competitively unfair gust of wind came up and blew the ball right. Immediate rekick. The league changes ot rules because of them, cancels a game they were losing, then changes the rules to determine seeding and home field for them. It’s comical.


    Spot on

  43. Go back to sudden death like it was before. Problem solved.

    Losing team can’t complain they should have won in regulation if they don’t like it.

  44. Sudden death was, and always will be, the best option.

    Can’t make a stop? Go home.

  45. fordbw says:
    January 12, 2023 at 10:22 am
    Playoff rules should be the same as regular season rules. Playoff games (including the Superbowl) should be allowed to end in a tie.

    And when this happens the 2 teams can merge and move to the next round and turn into a Super Team!

  46. Even on the opening kickoff, no team is ever guaranteed the ball. It is theoretically possible for neither team to possess the ball. Imagine a keystone-cops-style bumbling of the ball for 15 solid minutes. THAT is fairness. Ensuring each team possess the ball in overtime is the opposite of fairness. It isn’t sporting at all. The reason for kickoffs in the first place is that the returner may muff it (i.e. the kicking team has a chance to take the ball).

  47. Just copy the same rules for college football. I could have had this done ten years ago.

  48. I had to stop and wonder if I was crazy or something, because I thought right off the bat that this was a great idea, then I saw the comments. I honestly believe people here are just obsessed with being miserable and aiming that misery at “the favored, spoiled, rule-tailored, penalties called to help them win games, teams and the corrupt NFL that makes it happen.” Get my point? If you hate football this much, and you’re constantly complaining about every little thing that happens around the league, why even watch? Anyways…this rule change seemed like a great idea. If a fantastic game being played ends with overtime, giving each team a shot seems pretty fair. After playing 17 weeks of football, with alllll the time put into each week to prepare, come down to an overtime playoff game where you lose the coin flip and never touch the ball would be absolutely gutwrenching. Play it out!

  49. Now the advantage is 100% on the team kicking off. It’s even more advantageous to kick off now than it was to receive last year. There is no condition in which you would receive.

  50. I would be happy if we just took out the silly coin flips. Home team decides which side to defend, road team decides to kick off or defer, and OT picks up exactly where the game in regulation ends—first score wins no matter what.

  51. I could care less. I’m just here to read all the Josh Allen and Bills hate.

    Funny stuff.

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