The new overtime rules for the Playoffs go into effect today. It is not sudden death in overtime anymore. There is now an incredibly complicated set of rules. For the purposes of this post, we will call the team receiving the overtime kickoff Team 1 and the team kicking off in overtime Team 2.
Team 1 gets the ball first.
If Team 1 scores a touchdown on its first series, the game is over. Team 1 wins. Team 2 does not get the ball.
If Team 1 kicks a field goal on its first series, Team 2 gets the ball back. Team 2 can win the game by scoring a touchdown on its first series. If Team 2 kicks a field goal on its first series, the game continues and then becomes sudden death. If Team 2 does not score on its first series, Team 1 wins.
If Team 1 does not score on its first series, the game becomes sudden death.
If Team 2 recovers an onside kick on the opening kickoff of overtime, the game becomes sudden death.
I think this rule change is the dumbest thing the NFL has done in a long time. It is awfully convoluted. It also doesn't address the biggest problem a lot of people had with the overtime system. There is still a chance the game could be decided without both teams touching the ball in overtime. In addition, if the old overtime rule was so bad, why did the league keep it for the regular season?
If the NFL wanted to change the overtime system, it should have added an extra period. It could have been 15:00. It could have been 8:00. It could have been a pair of 7:30 periods with the teams switching sides at the end of the first period. It should either be sudden death or a full period with the natural flow of the game.
The NFL's full press release in more complicated language is below the jump.
NFL owners voted at the Annual Meeting in March to amend overtime rules for the postseason to a MODIFIED SUDDEN DEATH format. Teams will now have the opportunity to possess the ball at least once in the extra period unless the team that receives the overtime kickoff scores a touchdown on its first possession.
Here’s a look at the NFL’s overtime procedures for the postseason:
POSTSEASON – MODIFIED SUDDEN DEATH
The modified sudden death system of determining the winner shall prevail when the score is tied at the end of regulation playing time of postseason NFL games. The system guarantees each team a possession or the opportunity to possess, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession.
· At the end of regulation time, the Referee will immediately toss a coin at the center of the field in accordance with rules pertaining to the usual pregame toss. The captain of the visiting team will call the toss prior to the coin being flipped.
· Following a three-minute intermission after the end of the regulation game, play will be continued in 15-minute periods until a winner is declared. Each team must possess or have the opportunity to possess the ball unless the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown on its initial possession. Play continues in sudden death until a winner is determined, and the game automatically ends upon any score (by safety, field goal, or touchdown) or when a score is awarded by the Referee for a palpably unfair act. Each team has three time-outs per half and all general timing provisions apply as during a regular game. The try is not attempted if a touchdown is scored. Disqualified players are not allowed to return.
· Instant Replay: No challenges. Reviews to be initiated by the replay assistant.
· Possession: Actual possession of the ball with complete control. The defense gains possession when it catches, intercepts, or recovers a loose ball.
· Opportunity to possess: The opportunity to possess occurs only during kicking plays. A kickoff is an opportunity to possess for the receiving team. If the kicking team legally recovers the kick, the receiving team is considered to have had its opportunity. A punt or a field goal that crosses the line of scrimmage and is muffed by the receiving team is considered to be an opportunity to possess for the receivers. Normal touching rules by the kicking team apply.