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NFL makes quick work of overtime proposal

New overtime rules are coming to the NFL this season, but not for every game.

Overtime coin toss

PALM BEACH, Fla. – Overtime periods in the NFL are going to look a bit different from now on, though only if they happen during the postseason.

With very little business to conduct Tuesday at the league's Annual Meeting, thanks to only a handful of rule change proposals having been submitted, representatives of all 32 clubs voted to amend the current overtime format for playoff games and Super Bowls.

Going forward, any such postseason contest that runs past the traditional four quarters of play will be decided only after each team has had at least one possession on offense. This rule change, originally submitted jointly by the Colts and Eagles, asked that all overtime games, including regular season games, be subject to this new rule. However, it was agreed at the Annual Meeting that only overtime playoff games be decided in this fashion for now.

This proposal came after a thrilling OT Divisional Round game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, in which the home Chiefs took the ball and immediately scored a touchdown, thus ending the game. In what had been a seesaw battle throughout regulation, particular in the late fourth quarter, many observers felt it was time to allow both teams a chance to score.

The way the new rule is written, though, it seems only to postpone what had been inevitable previously. Under the new language, if both teams possess the ball in overtime one time apiece, and the score remains knotted thereafter, whoever scores next wins the game. So, for example, had the Bills gotten the ball, tied the game against K.C. with a TD, and the Chiefs got the ball back and scored, the Chiefs would have been granted a sudden-death victory, albeit a possession later than they already did in reality.

The measure that passed, however, seems at least to be a step in the right direction for those who have been lobbying for a more equitable solution to overtime games in the playoffs. The adjusted Indy/Philly proposal was passed just before lunchtime on Tuesday, after a brief debate during the morning. As mentioned, the current rules still apply to regular season games in 2022. Those being, that if the first team to possess the ball scores a touchdown on their first drive, they automatically win the game without the other team getting a crack at the football.

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