NFL Owners Approve Overtime Rule Change for Playoffs

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

The NFL announced on Tuesday that it has approved an overtime rules change for playoff games in the postseason. Now, each team gets a possession in the extra time should NFL games end in a tie after regulation. Owners approved the overtime rules change during their meetings in Florida. The move guarantees both teams will have the ball at least once in postseason games. It does not change the rules for regular-season games. That rule states that the team with the first possession will win if it scores a touchdown.

NFL Gives OK To Change Overtime Rules In Light of Chiefs-Bills Game

This move comes in the wake of a large public reaction to how the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Buffalo Bills in overtime. They did it in an AFC divisional playoff round game with an opening-possession touchdown. Now, the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles proposed a mandatory possession for both teams in all games, regular season and postseason.

Competition chairman Rich McKay said support was lacking among owners to pass the rule. The stipulation was just stuck to the postseason only. It did pass with the adjustment by a 29-3 vote. If the score remains tied in the postseason after each team has had a possession, the game will be decided in traditional sudden death.

McKay did say that recent data shows that the “problem principally” was found in the postseason overtime. We get more from ESPN.

Just 12 Games Affected By Previous Postseason Rules, But They Were Big

Under the previous playoff format, which was started in 2010, seven of 12 overtime games have been won on the opening possession. McKay acknowledged the sample size is small, but it’s significant enough to prompt a change.

“It’s the only postseason overtime games we’ve had,” McKay said. “It’s 12 years, 12 games. Those 12 games are as important to those franchises as any they are ever going to play in their history.”

Bills GM Brandon Beane was in favor of the playoff-only modification. He had been thinking about it even before the Bills lost to the Chiefs.

“I mean, I think we thought about it before when it came up when Kansas City lost to New England [in the 2018 AFC Championship Game],” Beane said. “I was watching that game going, man, you got a young [Patrick] Mahomes versus a veteran in [Tom] Brady and you never got to see Mahomes get his chance.”

In the postseason, overtimes continue until someone has more points. We get more about it here from ABC News. Carolina coach Matt Rhule did support the change on Tuesday. “You get a shot, I get a shot,” Rhule said, “and may the best team win.”