NFL competition overtime rules
Photo: Sporting News

According to NFL Network’s Judy Battista, the Indianapolis Colts have filed a proposal that would guarantee each club an overtime possession. The regulation change, if accepted, would apply to both the regular and postseason seasons.

The NFL’s competition committee chair Rich McKay suggested that prospective adjustments to overtime will likely be discussed when the committee meets this week. Teams can propose overtime adjustments for either the regular season or both the regular season and the postseason. It’s uncertain whether there’s enough support from around the league to change the league’s existing overtime system.

During the 2021 playoffs, the NFL’s overtime policy was a hot subject, especially after the Chiefs’ OT triumph over the Bills in the AFC divisional round. After Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense scored a game-winning touchdown after winning the coin toss to start the extra session, many claimed that the Bills’ offense should have been given a chance to possess the ball.

In 1940, the NFL adopted a sudden-death overtime format for all divisional tiebreaker games. In 1946, the league introduced sudden-death overtime to the postseason. The first-ever overtime period in the NFL was played during the 1958 NFL Championship Game when Johnny Unitas’ Colts defeated the Giants 23-17.

The league did not implement sudden-death overtime for any regular-season game that was tied after 60 minutes until 1974. In 2017, the regular-season overtime timeframe was reduced from 15 to 10 minutes.

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The NFL introduced a tweak to postseason overtime games in 2011. It was carried over to the regular season in 2012. Those adjustments, which are still in effect today, allow the team on defense to start overtime with the ball. If they don’t allow a score on the game’s first drive. If both teams kick field goals on their first drives, overtime will be decided by sudden death. The game is over as soon as a touchdown is scored.

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Both of the NFL’s postseason overtime games in 2021 featured the Chiefs. An interception by Mahomes on the Chiefs’ first possession of the AFC Championship Game led to Evan McPherson’s game-winning field goal. Sending the Bengals to Super Bowl LVI a week after defeating the Bills.

It will be fascinating to see what further proposals if any, are offered in regards to a potential overtime modification. Last year, the Ravens suggested a “spot-and-choose” rule. There one team chooses the yard line from which the overtime drive begins. And the other team chooses whether to start overtime on offense or defense.

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