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NFL Changes Overtime Rules for Playoffs

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Neutral-site conference championship games

Following a controversial set of overtime victories last postseason, the NFL passed significant changes to its playoff overtime rules at the annual league meetings Tuesday that will guarantee each team a possession.

Even if the team that wins the coin toss scores a touchdown on their opening possession, the other team will now have an opportunity to match. While the Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans all submitted proposals for overtime reform, the Colts’ and Eagles’ was passed.

Calls to change overtime in the postseason have been around for years, but those concerns grew louder than ever this past postseason. Many felt the coin toss had too much bearing over who ultimately won, which the numbers back up as well.

According to NFL Research, the coin toss winner has won 10 of the 12 playoff overtime games since 2010. The proposal passed with 29 of a possible 32 votes.

“On the football front, we were able to pass the overtime rule, which we were in favor of something and glad something got done,” Steelers president Art Rooney II told Steelers.com. “So I guess it’s fair to say it was a compromise between a few different proposals. So we got that done.”

Rooney added that some wanted to keep overtime consistent in the regular season and playoffs, but the parties settled on just altering the postseason.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is a member of the competition committee. It’s not clear how Tomlin voted, but he said earlier this week that he is more of a traditionalist and not afraid of sudden-death overtime.

“To be quite honest with you, I’m a sudden death advocate. I’m a traditionalist,” Tomlin said this week. “I don’t fear sudden death and I never have, but obviously I lost that battle a decade ago. But my position remains unchanged. I am one of the few sudden death advocates I would imagine.”

The push to overhaul the league’s overtime format reached its peak during these past playoffs, when Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills did not have a chance to match the game-winning drive orchestrated by Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. After a back-and-forth with both quarterbacks playing exceptionally well, many felt the ending was anticlimactic and unfair.

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