The NFL’s current overtime rules have fallen on hard times over the past few years. Yet despite the inevitable criticism of the format in professional football whenever a team loses partly because they weren’t lucky enough to possess the ball in extra time, the rules established a decade ago remain in place. in 2022.
NFL overtime rules do not allow a sudden death situation until both teams have possession of the ball and the game remains tied. However, if the team receiving the ball first scores a touchdown, the game ends. Many argue that the existence of this rule gives too much value to something as random as a coin toss.
Last year, the Saints fell victim to NFL overtime rules when Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense watched helplessly as the Vikings descended onto the field for a touchdown in overtime of a playoff game without have the chance to match. The same thing happened to the Chiefs against the Patriots in the 2019 AFC Championship Game. Super Bowl 51 ended when the Patriots scored on their first overtime possession against the Falcons.
DeCOURCY: How to fix NFL overtime rules
These recent high-profile examples are the main reasons several teams have proposed changes to NFL overtime rules in recent years. Following the aforementioned heartbreak in the AFC title game, Kansas City proposed a rule change that would allow both teams to possess the ball at least once in overtime, even if the first team to possess the ball in overtime scores a touchdown.
This proposal was filed by the NFL Competition Committee and was ultimately dropped. More recently, the Eagles submitted a proposal that would have changed the time of an overtime period — it’s currently 10 minutes — but that idea suffered the same fate.
So for now, the NFL overtime rules are the same as they have been for the past four years. Below is the NFL’s overtime format, along with a more detailed explanation of recent proposed overtime rule changes.
NFL Overtime Rules 2022
NFL overtime rules were changed as recently as 2017, when the overtime period was shortened from 15 minutes to 10 minutes in the name of player safety.
The sudden-death NFL overtime format we know today was established in 2010. It gives both teams the chance to own the ball at least once in overtime unless – and that’s the key – the team receiving the overtime kickoff scores a touchdown on their first possession.
The full section of the NFL Overtime Rulebook, which explains all procedures in full, can be found here.
NFL Overtime Rules for Preseason and Regular Season
- At the end of regulation, the referee will flip a coin to determine which team will have the ball first in overtime. The captain of the visiting team will announce the draw.
- No more than a 10-minute period will follow a three-minute intermission. Each team must own or have the ability to own the ball. The exception: if the team that gets the ball first scores a touchdown on the opening possession.
- Sudden death play – where the game ends on any score (safety, field goal, or touchdown) – continues until a winner is determined.
- Each team has two timeouts.
- The point after try is not attempted if the game ends on a touchdown.
- If the score is still tied at the end of the overtime period, the match result will be recorded as a draw.
- There are no instant replay trainer challenges; all revisions will be initiated by the proofreading officer.
NFL overtime rules for playoff games
- If the score is still tied at the end of an overtime period – or if the second team’s initial possession has not ended – the teams will play another overtime period. Play will continue regardless of how many more periods it takes for a winner to be determined.
- There will be a two-minute break between each overtime period. There will be no half-time intermission after the second period.
- The captain who lost the first toss in extra time will choose to either own the ball or select which goal their team will defend, unless the team that won the toss postpones that choice.
- Each team gets three timeouts during a half.
- The same timing rules that apply at the end of the second and fourth regulation periods also apply at the end of a second or fourth overtime period.
- If there is still no winner at the end of a fourth overtime period, there will be another coin toss and play will continue until a winner is declared.
NFL Overtime Rule Change Proposals
Shortly after the Patriots beat the Chiefs in the 2019 AFC Championship Game by driving downfield and scoring a touchdown on their first overtime possession, Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy delivered the perfect analogy. to explain what was wrong. Don’t give Patrick Mahomes and Co. a chance to respond.
“Imagine if baseball had to decide a League Championship Series game that progressed to extra innings by awarding a World Series berth to a team that scored a run in the top half of the 10th – without allowing the team on the field to turn at bat,” DeCourcy wrote. “That’s what the NFL just did.”
The Chiefs were understandably frustrated with what had happened, so the following spring they submitted a proposed rule change to the NFL Competition Committee that would fix the problem.
Here’s what the Chiefs’ proposal included:
- Give both teams the opportunity to possess the ball at least once in overtime, even if the first team to possess the ball in overtime scores a touchdown.
- Eliminate overtime for the pre-season.
- Eliminate the overtime toss so that the winner of the initial toss to start the game can choose to kick or receive, or which goal to defend.
The Chiefs’ proposal was filed twice in 2019 and ultimately scrapped, but similar changes to the NFL’s rulebook can and likely will be suggested in years to come.
In 2020, the Eagles submitted a rule change proposal that would have restored the preseason and regular season overtime periods to 15 minutes (from 10) as they were before 2017. Philadelphia’s proposal was also intended to minimize the impact of the hours draw additional.
This proposal never made it into the voting process as a potential NFL rule change.
History of NFL overtime rules
The first NFL game to use overtime as a means to decide a game that ended regulation in a tie was on August 28, 1955. The Rams defeated the Giants in a sudden-death overtime format who was Harry’s brain child. Glickman, the game’s promoter in Portland. This game, not the 1958 NFL Championship between the Colts and Giants, was the NFL’s first overtime game.
It wasn’t until 1974, however, that the NFL officially added a sudden-death overtime period to play in the event a game ended in regulation time with a tie. It was simple: the first team to score wins; basket included.
After 35 years of games using this overtime format, in 2010 the rules were changed for playoff games.
A field goal on the first overtime drive was no longer enough for a team to win in sudden death; instead, a touchdown was needed. This format – “both teams have the option of possessing the ball at least once in overtime unless the team receiving the overtime kickoff scores a touchdown on their first possession” – has been extended to 2012 to be used in preseason games and regular season games, too.
In 2017, the length of the overtime period in preseason games and regular season games was shortened from 15 minutes to 10 minutes in the name of player safety.