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Will We See the NFL's New Overtime Format in Regular Season Games?



After the Buffalo Bills' overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Playoff two years ago, the NFL decided to (again) change the overtime rules, but for playoff games only. The new rules for overtime in playoff games now allows both teams to possess the ball, even after the period's very first possession ends with a touchdown.

The Super Bowl ended the NFL's 50th season where overtime was a regular thing. From the league's inaugural year in 1920, until the end of the 1973 season, games had no overtime period. Only the postseason games had overtime, but that changed in the 1974 season, as overtime officially became part of all NFL games. Originally, overtime was sudden death, meaning that the first score of any kind won the game. This resulted in a lot of OT periods seeing one possession result in a field goal, and that would end it. Despite fans being disappointed that a one-possession field goal would end overtime, it took the NFL until the 2009 NFC Championship Game for them to finally change the rules. In that game between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings, the Saints won the toss, got into field goal range, and kicked the field goal that sent them to Super Bowl XLIV, which the Saints would go on to win.

The change that the league made went as follows:  coin toss decides possession. If the first possession results in a touchdown, the game's over. If the first possession results in a field goal, then the other team will have a chance to either tie it with a field goal, or win it with a touchdown. If the first possession sees no scoring, then sudden death rules apply. Sudden death rules also apply if both teams get field goals in overtime. These rules were instilled into playoff games in 2010, and regular season games two years later in 2012. This format currently remains in regular season games, while the current aforementioned format for playoff games was instilled in 2022.

Super Bowl LVIII marked the first game under this format, which guarantees that both teams will get the ball. As we saw, the 49ers had the ball first, but only got a field goal. Even if they had scored a touchdown, overtime would continue under this modified format, though the Chiefs would have needed a touchdown of their own to tie it up. As we saw, overtime lasted 14:57, as after SF's field goal, the Chiefs marched down the field and won it with a touchdown with three seconds left. 

This first time seeing the new overtime in action was quite epic! It has this football fan wondering if we will see these overtime rules in regular season games as soon as next season. I hope we do see them in regular season games, and I hope we don't have to wait too long. Overtimes like this would definitely bring some good drama to all games played in the NFL season.

Edited by Forum Admin
Moved to right category at request of member.

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In a nutshell both teams can possess the ball. They play until an overtime period ends with one team having the highest score. Do I have it right?

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7 hours ago, Billie Jean said:

In a nutshell both teams can possess the ball. They play until an overtime period ends with one team having the highest score. Do I have it right?

In playoff games, both teams are guaranteed to possess the ball in overtime. However, the overtime period is not played out in its entirety. For example, after San Francisco got their field goal, if Kansas City had been stopped on four straight plays right there, the game ends and the Niners would have won. 

For regular season games, they still have the rule where an opening possession touchdown wins the game. In regular season games, the only way that both teams get the ball in overtime is if the first possession results in either a field goal or no points. And in the regular season, games can end in a tie.




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14 hours ago, Angie said:

How do the new playoff rules compare to the current regular game rules?

In the regular season, overtime ends on a touchdown in the period's very first possession. If a field goal occurs on the period's first possession, then the other team gets the ball with a chance to tie it with a field goal or win it with a touchdown. If the opening possession is scoreless, then sudden death rules apply. Sudden death rules also apply if each team gets a field goal.

In the playoffs, since the 2022 season, it is guaranteed that both teams will get the ball at least once, meaning that an opening drive touchdown will see the extra point attempted, and the opposition with the ball with a chance to get a TD of their own. 

I knew the new playoff overtime would be good, what we saw in the Super Bowl on Sunday proved that. I say that even though I wasn't that crazy about the NFL changing the OT rules, because they had just changed them in 2010, and they only changed them for playoff games again in 2022 because Buffalo Bills fans were b***hing after the OT playoff loss to KC two seasons ago. However, the new OT did make the Super Bowl very very thrilling, and I can see the NFL putting this format into regular season games as soon as next season, but no later than the 2025 season.

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