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NFL Changes Overtime Rules For The Playoffs Only

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The NFL has passed the rule changing NFL overtime, according to multiple reports.

The previous overtime rule was sudden death which a lot of folks perceived as unfair because over 60% of teams that won the coin toss have won the game over the last 16 years.

The new overtime rules are applied only in the playoffs at this point but here's the rundown.

  • The team that gets the ball first has to score a touchdown to end the game on one possession.
  • If team A kicks a field goal, then team B will receive one possession to tie or beat that.
  • If team B kicks a field goal to tie, then the game moves into sudden death mode.
  • If team B scores a touchdown, then they win.

[Editor's Note: Via NJ Chiefs Fan, Peter King has noted that a safety ends the game]

The NFL's process in changing rules and processes has been described as reactionary because something dramatic usually has to happen in order for something to be changed.

In the case of overtime, that happened in the most recent NFC championship game when the Saints and Vikings went to overtime. The Saints won the toss, fielded a good kick return and, aided by a penalty, put themselves into field goal range to win the game.

Partly because of that -- and the perceived unfairness of it all that the Vikings didn't get a shot with the ball -- the NFL decided to modify its rules.

Several owners have expressed a desire to implement the new rules in both the regular and post-season but that change won't take affect in 2010 they will discuss that at meetings in May.

The four teams voting against the overtime change were Buffalo, Baltimore, Minnesota and Cincinnati.