NFL to change postseason overtime rule after Bills playoff loss

PALM BEACH, Fla. — The NFL’s 32 clubs passed a rule change Tuesday to ensure both teams possess the ball at least once in overtime in po...


PALM BEACH, Fla. — The NFL’s 32 clubs passed a rule change Tuesday to ensure both teams possess the ball at least once in overtime in postseason games. The measure comes months after Kansas City won a Divisional Round playoff game against the Buffalo Billswho didn’t get a chance to score in overtime.

The change to the league’s overtime rules was their first since 2010, when clubs voted to allow teams that scored a touchdown during opening overtime possession in a playoff game to win. (Prior to this, the team that scored first in any way in overtime won.) The rule, which by its nature gave an advantage to the team that won the overtime toss, was extended to the regular season in 2012.

Since 2010, there have been 12 playoff overtime games, and the team that won the pre-overtime toss has won 10 of those 12 games. Seven of those 10 wins have come on a first touchdown.

The game between Kansas City and Buffalo in January might have been the most dramatic of all these games. Powerful offenses from both teams scored a total of four touchdowns in the final two minutes of regulation, and Kansas City won, 42-36, scoring a touchdown on the first possession of overtime.

In the aftermath, commentators, fans and football executives lamented that viewers couldn’t see the Bills and quarterback Josh Allen also try to score in overtime, a furor that catalyzed the league to embrace the new rule.

“There has to be the last example of change, and it was the last straw that now, hey, we have to go ahead and do this,” said Bills coach Sean McDermott, who called the change of “bittersweet” rule. “It’s the right thing for the game.”

Both teams will now be guaranteed at least one possession at any time. If both teams score a touchdown on their first runs, the team that scores next wins.

The initial rule change proposal, which was made by staffers from the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles, would have covered both the 2022 regular season and the playoffs. McDermott said there was strong support for making this change just for the playoffs, explaining, “That’s where we were going to start.”

The rule change, however, will extend the games. Some coaches, including John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens, flagged it as a player safety issue, a reason to limit it to the playoffs, when teams’ seasons hang in the balance.

Kansas City offered overtime changes after the 2018 season that would have given both teams possession, after losing the AFC Championship game to the New England Patriots, who scored on a touchdown at the first try.

McDermott said the Bills’ playoff game against Kansas City was cited several times during the meeting as the teams discussed the rule change.

“This is potentially the best 20 to 30 minutes of football I’ve ever seen,” said Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons and chairman of the NFL competition committee. “And to think that it ended that way definitely brought up the idea of, hey, does this work for everyone?”

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Newsrust - US Top News: NFL to change postseason overtime rule after Bills playoff loss
NFL to change postseason overtime rule after Bills playoff loss
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