NFL owners change overtime rule for Playoffs
Last updated 4/5/2022 at 5:02pm
One of the greatest comebacks in National Football League history occurred last winter during the Buffalo Bills-Chiefs playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Even though I wanted the Chiefs to win that playoff game (because wife Susan is from the Show Me State), I was overly impressed how Buffalo refused to run up the white flag after Kansas City scored with 19 seconds left in regulation play.
The Bills extended those 19 seconds to more than five minutes of television time by utilizing their time outs and going out-of-bounds after catching a pass.
The game got down to the final second when the Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen threaded the needle between three Chiefs defenders to score a touchdown as time ran out and made the extra point to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Buffalo, being the visiting team, got to call the coin flip and said “heads” and the flip came out “tails” and the Chiefs elected to receive the overtime kickoff.
This was where Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes was at his best—using short passes to get first downs and moved his team downfield.
The one long pass went for a touchdown and the Chiefs advanced to the next round of the playoffs while the Bills’ players put on their snowshoes and went back home to watch the rest of the NFL playoffs WITHOUT ever touching the football in the overtime period.
Somehow my empathy kicked in and I felt like the Bills worked so hard in those precious 19 seconds and never got a chance to run another offensive play as their season sadly ended. It just was not right!!!
Last week the NFL owners approved a rule change that will allow the team that surrendered the overtime-opening touchdown a chance to score one of their own after realizing that the coin toss to begin the overtime period has too much impact on postseason game results.
If that second possession of overtime extends beyond the initial 15-minute period, play would continue until the team either scores or fails to get a first down somewhere along the way. Should the team tie the game, it would then become sudden death.
Since the previous overtime rule for the regular season was initiated in 2012, the team that won the coin flip won the game half of the time (76-of-152). But both teams had at least one possession in 82 per cent of the games (124-of-152), according to the Associated Press article.
“Since 2010, when that rule was instituted for the playoffs, seven of the 12 overtime games have been won on an opening-possession touchdown and 10-of-12 have been won by the team that won the coin toss,” the article points out.
An amendment was added to the original proposal by the Colts and Eagles to not make a change in the regular season, but in the postseason where the problem principally lies.
The Tennessee Titans had recommended that both teams possess the ball in overtime unless the team receiving the kickoff scores a touchdown and a two-point conversion. That would end the game.
Of course, if a team has the league’s best rusher like the Titans do, they would have a great advantage. But the owners thought that rule was too gimmicky and went with the other proposal. The fans want to see their quarterback touch the football in the overtime period.
“Under previous rules, the 10-minute overtime in the regular season only continued if the team getting the ball first failed to score or kicked a field goal. Should the side receiving the kickoff make a field goal, the team that first played defense would get a possession in which it can score a touchdown and win, or kick a field goal and play would continue—if time allowed,” the article concluded.
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